NEW DELHI: In a setback to the Delhi Metro, the high court on Wednesday refused to reverse its earlier order asking it to pay Rs 60 crore as three months interest to a lender of its former concessionaire in connection with a dispute over the Airport Express line.
Dismissing an appeal filed by DMRC against a single judge order, a division bench of Justices G S Sistani and Vinod Goel said the amount of Rs 60 crore was “only a fraction” or a “drop in the ocean” compared to the award of Rs 4,670 crore that has been challenged by the corporation.
The single judge’s interim order of 30 May to deposit the amount had come on a plea by the concessionaire Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd (DAMEPL) seeking early payment of Rs 3,502 crore, which is 75% of the arbitral award of Rs 4,670 crore granted in its favour on 11 May. DMRC, in its appeal, challenged the order saying it would amount to partial implementation of the award and would also be akin to dismissal of its objections against enforcement of the award.
But the division bench said it is not inclined to interfere with the 30 May order as it was an interim decision and the issues raised by the Delhi Metro have been kept open by the single judge for further hearing. The bench refused to accept DMRC’s argument that the interim order casts an unfair burden on it, saying “it cannot be a one way traffic”. The court said the award not being challenged yet by DMRC makes the situation “worse”.
The court noted that the single judge had protected DMRC’s interests by directing DAMEPL, a subsidiary of the Reliance Infrastructure, to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 65 crore.
DAMEPL, in its plea for early enforcement of the award, has claimed that under the guidelines issued by Niti Aayog on 5 September, 2016, public sector undertakings (PSUs) are to pay 75% of the award amount even if they propose to challenge the arbitral award. The single judge had said he will look into the applicability of the Niti Aayog memorandum on the next date of hearing on 19 July.