The Supreme Court Friday came down heavily on the Delhi government for its ambitious proposal to make metro travel free for women, saying it might lead the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to losses.
The apex court observed that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government should refrain from giving freebies from “public money” and warned that it would stop them from doing so as courts are not “powerless”.
“If you will allow people to travel for free, then the Delhi metro may go into loss. If you will give freebies, we will stop you. You are fighting for a cause here and you want them to incur loss. Do not give sops, it is public money,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta told the lawyer appearing for the Delhi government.
“Why you want to destroy the Delhi metro,” the bench said, adding, “Can you give sops and say that Union of India should bear the cost”. “What you handle is public money and public trust,” the bench said, adding, “Do not think that courts are powerless”.
Earlier in June, Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal had said his government would make metro and bus travel free for women in the national capital and that it would be implemented within two-three months. The move by Delhi government came ahead of the Assembly election scheduled early next year.
The apex court was dealing with three issues related to Phase-IV of Delhi metro; the bearing of operational loss, repayment of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) loan in case of default and sharing of land cost — which are yet to be resolved between the Centre and Delhi government.
The bench said that if there is any operational loss in the 103.94 km long Phase-IV of the metro project, it would be borne by the state government as it is a mode of conveyance in the national capital.
“The GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) is bound to ensure that financial health of DMRC is maintained properly and no steps are taken so that it may run into loss,” the bench said.
Regarding sharing of land cost, the apex court accepted Delhi government’s submissions directing that the land cost be borne by the Centre and the Delhi government to a 50:50 ratio.
It asked the authorities concerned to ensure that there is no delay in the Phase-IV metro project and the total land cost of Rs 2,447.19 crore is released forthwith.
The bench also directed the Centre and Delhi governments to work out the modalities and release the amount of land cost within three weeks from today.
(With PTI inputs)