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Karnataka HC Asks Central Govt To Decide On Whether Farmers Can Be Exempted From Paying Toll On Highways For Limited Period

Mustafa Plumber
6 May 2020 8:50 AM GMT
Karnataka HC Asks Central Govt To Decide On Whether Farmers Can Be Exempted From Paying Toll On Highways For Limited Period
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The Karnataka High Court has asked the Union Government to decide by May 12, whether an exemption can be granted to the farmers from paying toll on highways, for a limited period considering the exigencies which have arisen due to COVID-19.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna said "We direct the concerned Ministry of the Central Government to consider whether an exemption can be granted to the farmers for a limited period considering the exigencies which have arisen due to COVID-19. This will enable the farmers to transport the agricultural produce, horticulture produce and dairy products without payment of toll fee. The decision of the Central Government shall be placed on record on the next date of hearing."

The direction came after the counsel for PUCL informed the court that the farmers are still finding it difficult to transport the produce from one district to another. The farmers are finding it very difficult to get the goods vehicle for transporting the agriculture produce, horticulture produce and dairy products and secondly, in the present day situation, it is impossible for them to pay toll fee at various points.

Counsel appearing for the National Highway Authority of India apprised the court about the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 (for short 'the said Rules of 2008') and in particular, sub rule (4) of Rule 3 of the said Rules of 2008 which provides that no fee shall be levied for the use of section of national highway, permanent bridge, by-pass or tunnel, as the case may be, by two wheelers, three wheelers, (tractors, combine harvesters) and animal drawn vehicles. The power of the Central Government under Sub-rule (1) of Rule 3 of the said Rules of 2008 to levy fees.

The bench said "The issue is about the payment of toll fees required to be paid by the farmers when they carry agriculture produce, horticulture produce and dairy products by a goods vehicle which is not covered under sub-rule (4) of Rule 3. It is pointed out that the farmers are forced to sell the produce at ridiculously low rates and that they are not in a position to recover even the cost of operations. We, therefore, direct the concerned Ministry of the Central Government to consider whether an exemption can be granted to the farmers for a limited period considering the exigencies which have arisen due to COVID-19."

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