Court dismisses toll firm’s plea on dues payment by State transport corpns

PTI Madurai | Updated on July 25, 2014 Published on July 25, 2014

Madras High Court Bench here on Friday dismissed a petition by a private firm operating a toll plaza on a national high way seeking a direction to Tamil Nadu Government-owned state transport corporations (TNSTCs) to pay “toll arrears” of Rs 4.14 crore following restructuring of rates, saying the matter was beyond its jurisdiction.

Eagle Deep, a Concessionaire to operate Toll Plaza on the Tiruchirappalli bypass Road to Tuvarankurichi on NH45B, has moved the court seeking a direction to seven TNSTCs to pay statutory arrears of Rs 4.14 crore as of March 31, 2014 with 14 per cent interest as per the restructured toll rates.

Dismissing it, Justice K K Sasidharan said it was a settled legal position that a writ of Mandamus cannot be issued for money claim, exceptions being award of compensation for excesses committed by the state or when the state is held vicariously responsible. The Petitioner’s prayer that TNSTCs pay a particular amount was beyond the court’s jurisdiction.

The company, which took charge of the plaza on June 3, 2013, contended the TNSTCs assured to pay the notified payment dues at the end of each month, but failed to keep their promise inspite of several representations, including one by the General Manager of National Highways Authority of India.

TNSTC Counsel K.Chellapandian said as per the restructured fee, number of trips had been restricted to 50 journeys whereas earlier it was agreed at the rate of Rs.6,576 per bus per month without restrictions on the number of singles.

The Present concessionaire and the previous one are the same, therefore the agreement was binding, he contended and said the petitioner was seeking to convert the high court into civil court.

Petitioner’s counsel said no concession could be granted to TNSTCs and there was no room for bargaining. The relaxations granted by the erstwhile concessionaire could not be binding on the petitioner.

TNSTC also submitted the petitioner was collecting reduced rate and had issued monthly passes without restriction of number of singles for private bus operators.

Noting the petitioner’s claim that a fresh agreement had been signed with the NHAI pursuant to the fresh tender and earlier agreement would not bind them, the Judge said the dispute had to be resolved by parties before the appropriate forum and not in a writ petition.

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Published on July 25, 2014
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