The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court it would take nine weeks to decide whether toll should be collected on the Mumbai-Pune Express Highway as it was awaiting a report from the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
A division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla was hearing public interest litigations (PILs) filed by four activists seeking that the right of the contractor, Mhaiskar Infrastructure Private Limited, to collect toll on the expressway be revoked.
According to the petitions, the contractor has already recovered the cost of the project as per its agreement with the state authorities and, despite that, it continues to collect toll, thereby making “wrongful gain”.
Last July, the state government had informed the high court that the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) had initiated a discreet inquiry into the allegations.
The court had, earlier this month, directed the ACB to produce before it files pertaining to the inquiry and also sought to know from the government and MSRDC if it has taken any decision on whether the toll should continue to be collected on the expressway.
Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani submitted the inquiry files in a sealed report.
“The MSRDC’s remark on whether or not toll should be collected is expected in three weeks. The government, after receiving the remark, would take a final decision in six weeks thereafter,” Vagyani said.
The bench posted the petitions for further hearing on July 2.
According to the pleas, the contractor has recovered Rs 2,869 crore that it was entitled to and was now making wrongful gains by continuing to collect the toll.
In March 2017, the petitioners had complained to the ACB to initiate action against public servants, involved individually and collectively, for failing to revoke the contractor’s right to collect toll even after the completion of the contracted toll income.
When the ACB did not take any action, the activists petitioned the high court in April that year.