'No Question Of Partial Compliance': Supreme Court's Warning To Delhi Govt Over Fund Transfer To RRTS Project
The Supreme Court on Tuesday (November 28) warned the Delhi government that it had to completely comply with its assurance of allocating funds for the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) project. On being informed that only a portion of the funds had been disbursed, the court said, "There can be no question of partial compliance. Complete compliance must take place."A bench of Justices...
The Supreme Court on Tuesday (November 28) warned the Delhi government that it had to completely comply with its assurance of allocating funds for the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) project. On being informed that only a portion of the funds had been disbursed, the court said, "There can be no question of partial compliance. Complete compliance must take place."
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a batch of pleas raising concerns over the deteriorating air quality in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR). The region typically faces heightened pollution during the winter months, largely due to factors such as stubble burning in neighbouring states.
In July, the Delhi government had undertaken before the Supreme Court that it would make budgetary provisions for the RRTS project after being directed to show the budgetary allocations made for government advertisements. "If 1100 crores can be spent for advertisement in the last three financial years, certainly, contributions can be made to infrastructure projects," the bench led by Justice Kaul had observed then.
On the last occasion, the court had expressed dissatisfaction with the Delhi Government for failing to fulfill its commitment to allocate funds for the Regional Rapid Rail Transit System Project, calling it a 'gross breach'. The bench was considering an application filed by the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) highlighting this breach. In response, it passed an order to transfer government advertisement funds for the project, but at the behest of the counsel representing the Delhi government, agreed to stay the order for a week.
During today's hearing, the court was informed that the Delhi government had only disbursed a portion of the amount it was directed to transfer. Senior Advocate ANS Nadkarni argued, "Your Lordships had said that if the funds are not transferred, the order will come into operation. Today, the funds have not been transferred."
"Have you transferred the funds or not? At your request, we kept the order in abeyance for a week to comply with the assurance given to this court. Now please show us the document that shows compliance," Justice Kaul told Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the Delhi government.
"No, they have not been transferred," Nadkarni repeated, but Arora disagreed with this, saying, "My Lords, Rs 415 crores have been transferred."
Nadkarni pointed out to the court that even the order sanctioning the release of the funds mentioned 'partial compliance'. Amicus curiae Aparajita Singh also alleged that the Delhi government failed to follow the disbursement schedule. "There's already a schedule on which Your Lordships have passed an order. They do not need to be reminded by an application before this court every time. The problem is that they are not adhering to the schedule."
After hearing the submissions of the counsel, Justice Kaul pronounced -
"Learned counsel for the Delhi government states that the amount of Rs 415 crore as per as a sanction order, but it may not have been credited to the account of National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC). However, the sanction order itself states that it is in 'partial compliance'. There can be no question of partial compliance. Complete compliance must take place as per the schedule. List on December 7."
"The problem is you have to be arm-twisted to pay money that you are liable to pay," Justice Kaul remarked, after dictating the order.
These directions were passed while the bench was hearing a plea filed by environmentalist and lawyer MC Mehta in 1985, seeking the court’s intervention with respect to environmental pollution in Delhi NCR. This case, the focus of which extended to different forms of pollution, including air, water, and land pollution in the national capital, has witnessed one of the longest-standing continuing mandamus in the field of environmental litigation.