Long-time suffering highway commuters, rejoice for the Supreme Court, in its pro-people decision, has passed a rule that the National Highways Authority of India (N.H.A.I) and concessionaires cannot collect toll if the highways are broken or in bad shape.
The decision was taken after a case relating to hefty toll being collected on a dilapidated 26-km Raipur-Durg stretch on NH-53 came to light. A bench of Justices T S Thakur and Kurian Joseph then appointed a committee to inspect the road condition. The committee gave a stinging report about the road condition which ultimately led the bench to arrive at this decision.
According to a TOI report, “General public should not be made to suffer on both counts – bad roads and hefty toll,” the bench said while ordering a refund Rs 11 crore it had collected as toll to the central government.
A PIL petitioner Lal Manohar Pandey approached the Chhattisgarh High Court complaining against the pathetic Raipur-Durg stretch, on which the concessionaire extracted hefty toll. This is the reason why this case got such attention from the apex court. The HC order was challenged in the SC by the private contractor.
The decision by the SC totally makes sense because the primary reason why tolls are collected so that commuters get a well-maintained road to drive on. If that very basic requirement is not met, then there’s no point of charging toll, isn’t it?