The Delhi High Court on Friday rapped the Indian Railways on its functioning saying it was the “most litigious department” which was not even respecting circulars of a central ministry. “Problem is Railways does not accept any order of anyone. That is why you are the most litigious department. Your trains are running slow, your tracks are dirty and you do not have the political will to deal with it. You are carrying on at 40 km per hour, you carry on like that,” the court said.
The strong words by the high court came while hearing a plea by the Railways challenging an attachment order issued by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) demanding Rs 48.73 crore as service charge for servicing railway staff colonies. The court issued notice to the corporation and the Delhi government seeking their stand on the Railways’ plea seeking quashing of the attachment order of June 7.
According to the corporation, its order was based on a circular of the Ministry of Urban Development that said if the corporations are providing all services, normally provided to residents of other areas, in a government colony then service charge equivalent to 75 per cent of the property tax has to be paid to the MCDs. The Railways has contended that its colonies are entirely self sufficient and hence it has to pay only 33 and one-third per cent of the property tax. It further told the court that it has already paid Rs 9 crore to the NDMC.
The bench, however, was not swayed by the arguments as it said that “ordinary citizens who get zero services from the MCDs still pay their taxes”. “Secretary, Urban Development (in his circular) has said that pay 75 per cent. So you have to respect that. It is apparent that you do not follow anyone’s orders,” it said and added “there cannot be a civil war between Railways and the MCD”.
The court said the attachment order would be vacated only after the Railways pays 50 per cent of the amount demanded by the corporation and listed the matter for hearing on August 30. The bench passed the order after the lawyer for the Railways said the officials present in court cannot give an undertaking that payment of 50 per cent of amount would be made in four weeks. “Give the undertaking and we will vacate the attachment order,” the bench said.