considering a petition seeking free movement of vehicles through paliyekkara toll during traffic congestion, a division bench said there is no such stipulation in the concession agreement that allows vehicles to pass without paying the toll.
there is no rule stipulating that vehicles should be allowed to pass through a toll on the nh for free if more than five vehicles are waiting in queue, said the high court.
considering a petition seeking free movement of vehicles through paliyekkara toll during traffic congestion, a division bench comprising chief justice s manikumar and justice shaji p chaly said there is no such stipulation in the concession agreement that allows vehicles to pass without paying the toll.
the court considered a pil (wp-c no. 32672/2017) filed by thankachan devassy of thrissur. intervention of the court was sought by the petitioner by citing a clause in the concession pact between nhai and guruvayur infrastructure pvt ltd.
schedule c of the project facility of the concession agreement stated that ‘normally the service time allowed is 15 seconds for manual/semiautomatic system with a queue length of not more than 5 vehicles at any point of time’. nhai filed a counter affidavit stating that allowing vehicles to pass without paying toll, citing traffic congestion, is not permissible as per rule 3 of national highways fee (determination of rates and collection) rules, 2008.
the concession agreement only states that the time taken for clearing a vehicle is 15 seconds in a manual or semiautomatic system with a queue length of not more than 5 vehicles and it has nothing to do with a facility to opening up the toll plaza for decongesting traffic block, nhai submitted.
electronic toll collection through ‘fastag’ was introduced to enable vehicles to proceed without stopping, the court was told.
the judgment said, “on a perusal of the said specification, what is contemplated thereunder is only an estimation of time taken to clear the vehicle from the toll plaza and that does not mean that if more than 5 vehicles are in the queue, the toll plaza should be opened and all the vehicles shall be allowed to pass toll free."
"according to us, it is only a figment of imagination of the petitioner that consequent to the specification contained in schedule c, the concessionaire is liable to be let off the vehicles without charging toll free. this we say because, the issue is guided by rule 3 of rules, 2008 and there is no enabling provision under the said rules which facilitates toll free movement of the motor vehicles consequent to the traffic congestion of more than 5 vehicles.”
noting that traffic congestion at the toll plaza will reduce once ‘fastag’ is widely adopted, the court disposed the case by directing nhai to ensure speedy clearance of vehicles and directing thrissur sp to ensure that no untoward incidents take place at the toll plaza.