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Judiciary

Supreme Court orders AAP-led Delhi Govt to prioritize RRTS project funding over advertisements

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      22 November, 2023 12:34 PM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday came down heavily upon the Delhi government for "breach" of its undertaking to provide funds for the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) project and warned that its funds earmarked for advertisement would be transferred for RRTS.

The Court said its order in this regard would come into force if Delhi government did not provide required funds for the project within a week.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia said that the three-year budget provision for advertisements is Rs 1100 crore and the budget for current financial year is just Rs 550 crore.

The bench said the budgetary provision is something which the state government should see and for national projects, like RRTS, to be implemented, the money should be diverted from the advertisements to the project.

“We would have been inclined to transfer those funds to the project. However, in the last hearing on July 24, A M Singhvi (counsel for Delhi government) had assured that funds would be made available. We are thus constrained to direct that funds allocated for advertising purposes be transferred to the project in question,” the bench said.

However, considering repeated requests by Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora on behalf of the Delhi government, the bench said the Court will keep this order in abeyance for a period of one week and if funds are not transferred the order will come into operation.

The counsel insisted that the Court should allow her to come back to respond.

The bench, however, said that there is no back and forth.

Arora submitted that to release the allocation of funds at one go is difficult. However, the bench rejected this plea, saying that the Delhi government knew about this beforehand.

The Court fixed the matter for hearing on November 28.

The bench said it would consider a matter after a week to see what Delhi government has done.

“Despite assurances, if this is the only way the states will listen then we have to adopt this as only way of doing it…you did not even come to seek an extension. You did not even move an application saying I cannot do it in two months, I will do it in three months. No such application, this cannot be taken for granted," the bench said.

On July 24, after a nudge from the court, the Delhi government had agreed to provide funds for the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) projects for Delhi-Alwar and Delhi-Panipat corridors.

The AAP government had then said it will release the first instalment of Rs 415 crore within two months. The Delhi government had then informed the top court that it has spent Rs 1073.16 crore on advertisements in the last three financial years.

The RRTS project consists of semi-high speed rail corridors connecting Delhi to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, Alwar in Rajasthan, and Panipat in Haryana.

The Court had then said if Rs 1,100 crore budget can be spent on advertising in the last three financial years, then the state government can certainly contribute towards infrastructure projects.

“Your one year advertising budget is more than what you are giving for the project,” the bench had then told the Delhi government.

The Delhi government counsel had submitted before the Court that payment will be made towards the project. It had asked the Court to permit his client to contribute in instalments spread over a reasonable period of time. The National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) is executing the project, which is a joint venture between the Centre and the state governments concerned.



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