Final hearing of petitions against Mumbai Metro fare hike from June 20

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday posted the petitions filed by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and city Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam against the Mumbai Metro fare hike for final hearing on June 20.

A division bench of Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice M S Sonak said the interim stay to the fare hike would continue. 

The HC also issued a notice to the Attorney General as petitioners have raised Constitutional issues and argued that Indian Tramways Act would apply here and not Metro Act.

Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), the Metro operator (an arm of Reliance Infrastructure), announced fare hike by Rs 5 for a single journey on Versova-Ghatkopar line on November 27. It also proposed revised rates for season tickets. 

The 11.4-km Metro was constructed by MMRDA and MMOPL in a joint venture.

Against the earlier slabs of Rs 10, 20, 30 and 40, the proposed new structure has slabs of Rs 10, 20, 25, 35 and 45. MMRDA has opposed the hike, alleging that the Centre-appointed Fare Fixation Committee is facilitating profiteering by the operator by allowing multiple fare hikes.

Nirupam's lawyer B A Desai has demanded that there should be a fare hike every four years, as per the original agreement, and not more frequently. 

Senior counsel Aspi Chenoy, for the MMRDA, has argued that the original fare was fixed by an agreement between the MMRDA and MMOPL and it was estimated that the operator would have to bear losses for the first eight years and it would start making profits only from the ninth year.

However, he said, the fare committee allowed the operator to recompense the company in the first year, which would lead to a steep hike in fare, which would change the characteristic of the project from a public utility to a project of limited usage.

An MMOPL spokesperson said, "Hon'ble Bombay High Court has fixed a schedule of day to day hearing commencing 20th June 2016 and the parties have been directed to complete pleadings by 6th June 2016."

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