The Supreme Court has set aside a Kerala High Court judgment which directed the Government to conduct a load test before demolishing the Palarivattom Flyover on the National Highway in Ernakulam.
It is very difficult then to say that the Government, in accepting Expert Committee Report, could be said to have behaved arbitrarily. Justice RF Nariman led bench noted.
The Kerala High Court had, while considering a batch of writ petitions, directed the Government to conduct a load test of the Palarivattom flyover through an approved qualified agency capable of conducting such a test, with notice to all the stakeholders.
Palarivattom Flyover, constructed by RDS PROJECT LIMITED, was inaugurated in 2016. The Consultancy Agency for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, on regular inspection of the bridge, reported on 16.03.2018 that the bridge was in a distressed condition with several cracks as a result of which measures should be taken to rehabilitate the flyover. IIT, Madras, was who was appointed as an expert agency, suggested that the bridge could follow a carbon fibre fabric composite treatment and be repaired instead of being demolished. Dr. E. Sreedharan submitted another report to the Chief Minister in which he recommended the strengthening and replacement of RCC girders with PSC girders to ensure durability which would necessitate a demolition and re-construction of the bridge. The State Government then set up a High Level Committee which reported that it is better to accept the proposal by Dr. E. Sreedharan considering the service life assured by him for 100 years.
RDS PROJECT LIMITED and some others approached the High Court against the Government move to demolish the fly over. The High Court observed that 'before demolishing the platform and the girders, it is better to have a load test conducted, to avoid any further controversy in the matter'. After conducting such load test, it shall be open for the Government and its authorities to take a decision whether they should proceed in accordance with the manner in which they have already decided or to take a different approach in the matter, the High Court held.
Allowing the appeal filed by the State, the bench, also comprising Justices Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee, observed:
"Having perused the High Court judgment, what is clear is that the High Court, instead of applying the well-established parameters of judicial review and ascertaining whether the decision of the State Government would violate Article 14, went into the matter itself and stated that it is better to have a "load test conducted to avoid any further controversy in the matter."Given the fact that an Expert Committee, which is a High level Committee of five experts was set up to go into the divergent opinions of IIT Madras and Dr. E. Sreedharan, and the experts having come to a particular conclusion, it is very difficult then to say that the Government, in accepting such Expert Committee Report, could be said to have behaved arbitrarily. On this ground alone, we set aside the judgment of the High Court, as also the review judgment."
Case name: STATE OF KERALA vs. M/S RDS PROJECT LIMITED Coram: CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 3239-3246 OF 2020 Coram: Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira BanerjeeCounsel: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, for the State of Kerala, Senior Advocates Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Jaideep Gupta, Rana Mukherjee, V. Giri, for respondents.
Click here to Read/Download Judgment