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Bombay HC upholds Metro fares fixed by R-Infra arm

The high court here on Tuesday upheld the initial fares fixed and notified for the Mumbai Metro by Reliance Infrastructure arm Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) as Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 40, depending on distances, under Section 33 of the Central Metro Act.

The court dismissed the arbitration plea by the state undertaking Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) against MMOPL’s decision to fix fares.

MMRDA, with 26 per cent stake in the Mumbai Metro project, had said the fares were earlier fixed at Rs 9 (up to three km), Rs 11 (from three to eight km) and Rs 13 (more than eight km) and were accepted by the group — as mentioned in the concession agreement.

MMRDA had prayed fares fixed by MMOPL be stayed and an order be granted restraining the MMOPL from charging a higher amount than the initial fares agreed by it according to the terms of the concession pact and notified by the Maharashtra government on September 3.

Judge R D Dhanuka said, “Prima facie, MMOPL is right in deciding the fare for the opening of metro railway in the board meeting till it is decided by the fare panel.”

“Further, prima facie there is no merit in the MMRDA’s submission that initial fare was already fixed by agreement and was binding on the parties though provisions of Metro Acts which were extended to the Mumbai Metro One.”

An MMOPL spokesperson said: ”The high court has upheld fares fixed for Mumbai Metro One.”

However, MMRDA spokesman said the undertaking will offer comment after going through the high court order.

”Considering the provisions under Section 36 of the Act of 2002 which provides that Fare Fixation committee shall submit its report along with recommendations to the Metro Railway Administration not exceeding three months, in my prima facie view, the fares fixed by the respondent No.3 (read MMOPL) can be in force till the fare is decided by the Fair Fixation Committee or till validity of the resolution in question is considered by the arbitral tribunal. No prejudice thus would be caused to the MMRDA if the Metro Railway Administration is permitted to recover fare according the resolution dated May 29, 2014 during the pendency of submission of report and recommendation by the Fare Fixation Committee or till such time the arbitral tribunal renders an award,” Justice Dhanuka said in his judgement.

Further, Justice Dhanuka observed that the observations made in the order are prima facie and are made for the purpose of deciding the application under section 9 of the Arbitration Conciliation Act, 1996. The arbitral tribunal may decide the matter on its own merits without being influenced by the observations made in the order.

The rates will apply on the recently-inaugurated 11.4-km Versova-Andheri-Gahtkopar corridor from July 8.

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