New Delhi: The Supreme Court today did not stay the fare hike, effected by Reliance Infrastructure-led Mumbai Metro One Private Limited, for metro commuters in that city and asked the Centre-appointed panel to decide the fare issue by April end.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, however, asked Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) to deposit 50 per cent of "differential amount", which will come to it due to the fare hike, with the apex court registry on weekly basis.
"The fare fixation committee shall follow the procedures, law and rules made thereunder. Till the committee decides the issue, Respondent no. 3 (MMOPL) and petitioner (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) would be at liberty to collect enhanced fare following the decision of the Bombay High Court," the bench, also comprising Justice P C Pant, said.
The court ordered its registry to keep the money, to be deposited by the Reliance firm, in short term deposits and fixed the plea, filed by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) against the High Court order, for further hearing on May 6.
Senior advocate P Chiadambaram, appearing for MMOPL, said that the firm has been losing more than 60 lakhs per day and the decision to hike the fare hike was taken by its board.
"The current fare band, which was between Rs 10 and Rs 20, was promotional," he said.
The new fare is between Rs 10 to Rs 40 for for the 11.4 km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor, the first phase of metro in Mumbai, he said.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, who is representing MMRDA, opposed the plea and said that this is public interest issue and the plea that fare should be "trued up" can be done at later stage.
"The fare should be Rs 9 to Rs 13," he said. Chidambaram said that there was "no problem" in the decision asking the firm to deposit 50 per cent of differential fare with the registry but, it would lead to decreased cash flow to the firm.
MMRDA has challenged the fare hike in the apex court. The travel by Mumbai metro became costlier on January one as the MMOPL increased the fares following Bombay High ourt's order a day before.
The private company, a consortium consisting of state government agency MMRDA and Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure, had told the high court that it was incurring losses at the existing ticket rates of Rs 10, Rs 15 and Rs 20.
MMOPL, which commenced operations of the Mumbai metro in June 2014, had fixed the initial tariff range at Rs 10-40. However, the state government had taken Reliance Infra to the high court insisting that the metro fares should be as per the concession agreement that set it between Rs 9 and Rs 13.
The eventual rates has to be decided by Fare Fixation Committee, the MMRDA had said.