'Price Fixation Is A Statutory Function': Delhi HC Dismisses PIL Seeking Reduction In Fares Of Delhi Metro
Delhi High Court dismissed a PIL seeking reduction in fares of Delhi metro. The court cited that price fixation is a statutory function under section 33 Metro Railways Act, 2002, hence intervention can't be made.
In this Civil Writ Petition, the petitioner had argued that the Fare Fixation Committee of 2009 had recommended 15 slabs ranging from rupees 8 to rupees 30. However, the present fare structure have 6 slabs which are exorbitant and are burdensome to the commuters. Further, he claimed that reduction in fares would lead to increase in footfall and hence wouldn't detriment the revenues of the Delhi metro. The petitioner compared the situation with that prevalent in Mumbai, where Bombay High Court had directed reduction of fares in Mumbai metro. Moreover, it was also argued that reduction in fares would also result in decongesting of traffic and a resultant reduction in air pollution.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Hari Shanker rejected the petition by holding that fixation of prices is a prerogative of the government, hence the court cannot exercise the same. The court noted price fixation is a complex process which involves consideration of various factors and the present court is incapable of taking up such a task in a writ petition.
The court also noted that the petitioner had not pointed any illegality in the fixation of fares by the Delhi government, therefore the prayer of revising the fare slabs in line of the recommendations given by the 2009 Committee cannot be directed by the present court.
The petitioner had also challenged the Delhi government's policy of providing free rides to women. However, he did not argue it before the court. The counsel for the government had pointed out that the policy is still under consideration and therefore it would be premature to dispute the same. On this matter, the court opined that it is incumbent upon the Delhi government to provide fare exemption to any class of consumers provided all circumstances are factored in. The court dismissed the said writ petition and imposed a cost of Rupees 10,000.