At the very outset, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Jain, submitted that the matter may be adjourned because Justice A.S. Bopanna, who presides over the special bench, is not sitting owing to illness.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Kejriwal led Delhi government for the breach of an undertaking to the top court to provide funds for Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS) project connecting the national capital with Meerut and directed it to transfer the funds for taking forward the project, giving it a week’s time to comply with its April/July directions.
Putting in abeyance for a week its order directing the release of funds for RRTS, a bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia said that its order would come into force if Delhi government fails to provide required funds for the project.
The bench warned the Delhi government that if it fails to release the funds for the construction of RRTS project, it (top court) would attach its advertisement budget.
The bench took a stern view of the Delhi government not releasing its share of financial commitment for the RRTS project in the course of the hearing of an application by National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) pointing out that the AAP government has not released the funds for the project despite top court’s orders.
Expressing disappointment with the stand of the Delhi government, Justice Kaul said, “Why you have not complied with (the court’s) order? We will stay your advertising budget. We will attach it and take it here (RRTS).”
On April 21, the top court had permitted Delhi government to contribute Rs. 500 crores from the Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) towards its share for Delhi-Meerut RRTS project.
However, when the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) pointed out that payment of Rs. 500 crores would still leave a balance of Rs. 415 crores towards Delhi government, the top court had said , “We call upon the State Government to make the requisite budgetary provision, if not already made and thereafter to pay the amount promptly so that the project is not delayed.”
On July 24, the top court while taking on record a statement by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Delhi government, that the funds will be allotted for the project, the bench had said in its order, “Senior counsel says provisions will be made in line with proposed schedule. We take this on record, the overdue amount will be paid within two months.”
Referring to its April order, the bench today said, “Gross breach of directions by this court of assurance given on behalf of the state government… In April, we had specifically mentioned the balance amount payable by the Delhi government and directed them to pay the amount promptly. Amount is not paid… Details show that three years budgetary provision (for advertisement) was almost Rs 1100 crores, while for this financial year was Rs 550 crores… If such national projects are affected, and if money is being spent on advertisement, we would be inclined to ask the money to be directed to the infrastructure.”
As senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for Delhi government, today sought one week’s time, the bench listed NCRTC application after a week, and said if the fund allocation is not made in the meantime, then the order will come into operation.
“We are thus constrained to direct the funds allocated for advertisement purposes to be transferred to the project in question. At the request of the counsel, we will keep this order in abeyance for a period of one week. If the funds are not transferred, the order will come into operation,” ordered the bench.
In its application, National Capital Regional Transport Corporation (NCRTC) the apex court had directed the Delhi government to contribute for Delhi-Meerut RRTS Project Rs 500 crores within ten days.
However, there is still a balance amount of Rs 415 crores left. The Delhi government inspite of delay of more than six months since the order dated April 21, 2023 was passed by the apex court has released only an amount of Rs 80 crores against the due amount which is highly disturbing/discouraging and clear non-compliance of the order passed by this court, the application stated.
It added that giving early approval and making budgetary provisions for the Delhi-Alwar corridor and Delhi- Panipat corridor and release of the instalment amount of Rs 100 and 50 crores respectively for these corridors for the financial year 2023-24 is pending.