Expressway operator opens talk window

Countering the National Highways Authority of India’s allegation that it wrongfully diverted a fund of more than Rs 550 crore,the Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd,which operates the Gurgaon expressway,on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that its contract could not be terminated on this count since there was no clause preventing them from using excess money.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: March 28, 2012 1:16:03 am

Countering the National Highways Authority of India’s allegation that it wrongfully diverted a fund of more than Rs 550 crore,the Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd (DGSCL),which operates the Gurgaon expressway,on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that its contract could not be terminated on this count since there was no clause preventing them from using excess money.

“We have invested more than Rs 1,000 crore in this project and the NHAI is the first recipient of money that becomes due to it under the contract. We could not be charged for wrongfully diverting the money because the same contract entitled us to keep the balance money. There is nothing in the contract prohibiting us from doing so,” senior advocate N K Kaul,appearing for DGSCL,said.

Earlier,while seeking to amend the concessionaire’s petition and placing on record some compilations of relevant documents,Kaul requested Justice S Muralidhar to incorporate in the court order that the parties,before the next date of hearing,shall also try to resolve the issues amicably.

“According to us,it is a dispute that can be solved through talks. In pursuant to the NHAI’s first termination notice,we had sent to them some of the proposals. Hence,we will request the court to write one line in the order sheet that the parties will try to resolve it through talks before the next date of hearing,” he said.

Intervening,the counsel for the Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC),which became a party to the case contending that it had provided a credit facility of Rs 1,597 crore to the DGSCL for its 28-km road project and the contract termination will cause huge loss to it as well,also favoured this argument.

While Justice Muralidhar observed that nobody was stopping them from sorting out the issues on their own,senior advocate Sandeep Sethi,who appeared for NHAI,claimed that the DGSCL had wrongfully diverted more than Rs 550 crore and hence,issues could get resolved only after it agreed to return the money.

Kaul objected to this,saying that the concessionaire was well within its rights to keep the balance money.

At this,the judge asked the lawyers to argue on the merit of the termination notice at a later stage and fixed April 12 as the next date of hearing.

Meanwhile,Kaul also informed the court that the DGSCL has moved a contempt plea against the NHAI since the latter had refused to revise the expressway toll.

“The toll charges have to be revised as per the schedule mentioned in the contract with the NHAI. The time is up for such a revision but the NHAI has refused to revise the rates saying they have already served a termination notice on us. But this notice has already been stayed by the court and hence adopting such a stand was contemptuous,” Kaul said.

The court is expected to take up this plea too on the next date of hearing.

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