Mumbai: Mandatory FASTag won't infringe anyone's fundamental right to free movement, Centre tells Bombay HC

Making FASTag mandatory for all vehicles plying on national highways won't infringe a citizen's fundamental right to free movement, the Union government told the Bombay High Court. The government said its decision has been premised on the provisions of the Central Motor Vehicle (CMV) Rules.

This comes on an affidavit filed in response to a PIL challenging the Union's decision to make mandatory the FASTag, an electronic toll collection chip, in all vehicles that ply on national highways.

The affidavit states that the FASTag has been mandated to ensure "seamless" traffic movement on all national highways and also to cut short the travel time.

One of the grounds mentioned in the PIL is that the decision infringes the fundamental right to free movement of the citizens as the vehicles without the chip are being prevented from plying on the highways.

"The mandate of using FASTag does not violate a citizen's fundamental right to freedom of movement," the Union clarified in its affidavit filed through Rajeev Singh, the regional officer of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

The affidavit further claimed that those vehicles, in which the chip couldn't be fit at the dedicated toll plazas, are allowed to ply on the extreme left of the highway. It also stated that such vehicles are made to pay double toll amounts.

In his affidavit, Singh has also highlighted the fact that traffic marshals have been deployed on all the highways to guide such vehicles so as to ensure other vehicles don't face any inconvenience. He has also rebutted the contention that the decision was implemented in haste.

"The CMV Rules were amended in 2017 to make FASTag mandatory for all vehicles sold after December 1, 2017. Further, in November 2020, the law was again amended to make FASTag compulsory for all vehicles on toll plazas along all national highways beginning January 1, 2021," the NHAI said.

It further highlighted the fact that if the PIL is allowed, the NHAI would suffer "irreparable loss." It also pointed out that the RBI has announced the enhancement of National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) and that it would soon introduce easy payment options such as UPIs etc.

Notably, 119 state toll plazas are currently having FASTag chips. The Union has said that it would provide financial assistance in supporting the states to enable all their highways use the FASTag.

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