Mumbai: HC asks petitioners to deposit Rs 3 lakh, to test their bona fide

Their PIL contends that the toll collection violates the provisions of the National Highways Fee Rules, 2008, as the distance between Varsoli plaza and Somatane plaza is less then 60 kms on the national highway.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Tuesday, October 18, 2022, 11:04 PM IST
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The Bombay High Court asks petitioners to deposit Rs 3 lakh in 15 days to test bona fides. | Representative Image

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday, to check their bona fide, directed two Talegaon-based businessmen to deposit Rs 3 lakh before it hears their public interest litigation (PIL) challenging toll charges on the Mumbai-Pune section of the Mumbai-Bangalore Highway.

A division bench of Justices SV Gangapurwala and RN Laddha directed Milind Achyut and Avinash Bodke to deposit the amount in two weeks.

Their PIL, filed through advocate Pravin Wategaonkar, contends that the toll collection violates the provisions of the National Highways Fee Rules, 2008, as per which there has to be a minimum distance of 60 km between two plazas on the same section and same direction of a national highway.

The distance between Varsoli (Lonavla) plaza and Somatane (Dehu Road) plaza is some 31 kms, on the national highway 48 (Mumbai-Bangalore), states the plea.

Toll plaza violation of rules and regulations

The rules also prohibit the establishment of a toll plaza within 5 km of a municipal or town area limit. Somatane Plaza is some 3.5 kms from Limb Phata of Talegaon Dabhade Municipal Corporation.

The plea highlights "the public injury to thousands of vehicle users paying tolls where restitution is not possible."

The PIL has urged that the establishment of Somatane Plaza be declared illegal. It has also been sought that the authorities be restrained from the collection of tolls till the petition is decided.

Wategaonkar had earlier filed two PILs challenging toll collection on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The judges said the petitioner should rather intervene in the PIL and make the same prayer there.

However, Wategaonkar said the petitioners are residents of Talegaon and their cause of action is different.

The judges then asked the businessmen and socio-political activists to deposit the amount in two weeks to test their bona fides.

The HC has kept the PIL for hearing on November 14.

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