The Delhi High Court Wednesday rejected a plea against the Delhi government’s proposal to make Delhi Metro travel free for women in the capital, and said, “It is for the authorities to give or not give any concession to a particular class in Metro ride fares.” A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on the petitioner, an advocate, saying there is no substance in his demand.
“Fixation of fares is a statutory function and the process of fixation is complex, which involves consideration of several factors and stakeholders, including cost. All these factors cannot be determined in a PIL,” the bench said.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had recently cleared the proposal to make Metro and bus travel free for women in the capital.
Challenging the Delhi government’s move, advocate Bipin Bihari Singh argued it would create a parallel arbitrary discrimination against other poorer sections of the society, who find it economically difficult to travel in Metro, ever since ticket prices were hiked.
The court, however, rejected the lawyer’s prayer in the petition, which also sought reduction of fares and to make 15 slabs of ticket prices instead of the existing six.
The bench observed that the petitioner has failed to point out any illegality in the fixation of fares, adding the court will be “extremely slow” in fixing the fares for Delhi Metro, which is the government’s prerogative.
It also noted that two similar petitions relating to Delhi Metro fares were filed earlier as well, and they were not entertained either.
“We are not inclined to give any direction, much less in the nature of mandamus to respondents No. 1 to 3 (Delhi government, Union of India and DMRC) on fixation of fares prevailing today,” the bench added.
On the prayer that the Delhi government be directed not to take any step to make Metro rides free for women, the bench observed that though this plea has been made, it has not been argued by the petitioner.
During the proceedings, the Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghosh submitted that the plea was premature, as currently no such exemption was given to women to travel in the Metro and the proposal is still under consideration.
The plea had sought a direction to the authorities to revise and reduce the current fares, and to bring down the price to a level which is affordable for the common masses.