SC warns Kejriwal govt of diverting Delji’s ad budget if it does note release fund for RRTS project

SC warns Kejriwal govt of diverting Delji’s ad budget if it does note release fund for RRTS project
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SC warns Kejriwal govt of diverting Delji’s ad budget if it does note release fund for RRTS project

On 13th December (Wednesday), the Supreme Court issued a stern warning to Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal government over the delay in providing funds for the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS). The court observed that the Delhi government should refrain from compelling the court to pass ‘tough orders’. The bench noted that if the Delhi government doesn’t pay its share of dues for the project, it will be forced to reactivate the earlier order and attach the AAP government’s advertisement budget.  

Notably, in November this year, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia directed that if the Delhi government fails to allocate funds for the Rapid Rail project, the amount will be redirected from the Arvind Kejriwal government’s advertisement budget for the current year.

During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had observed that the problem was that the Delhi government could make a budgetary provision of Rs 580 crore for advertisements but it could not make a budgetary provision of Rs 400 crore as part of its share for the vital infrastructure project.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul had said, “If such national projects are affected, and if money is being spent on advertising, we would be inclined to ask the money to be directed to the infrastructure”.

Pertinently, the Supreme Court was apprised today that the Delhi government has still not paid its share for the RRTS project during the ongoing hearing on pleas concerning air pollution in Delhi. 

Responding to the charges, the Delhi government’s counsel Senior Advocate S Muralidhar defended the delay in funding. Muralidhar argued that the Delhi government will release these funds when the government of India officially approves the project. He claimed that the NCRTC website says the Centre has not done it, adding that Delhi-Alwar and Delhi-Panipat Corridor projects are yet to be approved by the Centre. The advocate claimed that Delhi govt has made budgetary provisions for the projects, and the funds will be released after the projects are approved.

In reply, the bench warned, “These are new excuses (smiles). We are not afraid to pass tough orders. If you do not pay why will even other States pay.” The court also noted that other states have released their share of the funds, and therefore the Delhi govt also should do the same.

The opposing counsel pointed out that these projects are sanctioned through international plans and delays escalate the cost. 

The bench stated, “Mr Muralidhar you will make me reactivate my earlier order (of attaching Delhi ad budget).” 

The Supreme Court then gave 7 days to the Delhi government to release the funds for the project. The court strictly directed the state govt to abide by the schedule concerning the allocation of funds for this project.

Meanwhile, earlier on Monday (11th December), the Supreme Court had slammed the Delhi government over its ‘lackadaisical approach’ towards providing funds to the Delhi High Court and district judiciary for infrastructure development.

The bench was headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and included Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. The bench said, “What is happening? What is your government doing? You don’t want to give any funds to the Delhi High Court? We need approval by Thursday. It is a model High Court and look at the condition. Judges are undergoing training and there are no courtrooms.” 

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