SC pulls up Delhi government over installation of RFID

SC pulls up Delhi government over installation of RFID

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Delhi government for its apparent delay in the installation of Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) at 13 entry points on Delhi’s border with adjoining states.

Asking it to be forward-looking, the bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice R. Banumathi trashed the Delhi government’s plea for re-examining the issue and told it that RFID — which was sought to be installed at all the 13 entry points to the national capital — was being used all over the world.

The bench said this as it ordered the Delhi government to release funds from the corpus of Environment Compensatory Charge (ECC) for installation of the Radio Frequency Identification Devices.

Pointing out that European countries were using RFID for the last 50 years, Chief Justice Thakur said: “These things (RIFD) were there in Europe 50 years ago.”

The Delhi government came in for a drubbing by the bench in the course of the hearing of a plea by amicus curiae Harish Salve, urging the court to modify its October 9, 2015 order for the release of funds from ECC corpus for installing RFID at 13 entry points.

Counsel appearing for the Delhi government wanted some time to examine the issue.

Asking the Delhi government as to why it was adopting an “obstructive” approach, the bench asked if the transport secretary was going to sit on judgement on what was being ordered by the apex court.

The court wondered as to why they wanted to live with “stagnation” and continue with the existing “contractor” system.

The court said no financial burden was being put on the coffers of the Delhi government as the project is sought to be financed from the money collected by way of Environment Compensatory Charge (ECC).

Salve had sought modification of the October 9, 2015 order for the release of funds from the corpus of ECC for installation of RFID for effective collection of environment charge and plug leaks.

Salve assists the Supreme Court in environmental matters.

The apex court by its October 9, 2015, order had said that “the amount (of ECC) so collected ought to be exclusively used for augmenting public transport and improving roads, particularly for most vulnerable users, that is, cyclists and pedestrians in Delhi”.

The court was told that the South Delhi Municipal Corporation was the agency for executing the RFID project as it was urged to direct the Delhi government to release Rs 93 lakh for the preparation and vetting of tender documents.

Salve told the bench that entire project for the installation of RFID would be spread over a period of five years requiring an expenditure of Rs 120 crore.

This would be at an average of Rs 24 crore per annum — just 5 per cent of Rs 432 crore — that would come to the kitty of Delhi government annually, Salve said.

To curb the alarming air pollution in the national capital, the Supreme Court had by its October 9, 2015 order imposed ECC on the vehicles that were not Delhi-bound but were using Delhi to transit to other states.

The court had imposed ECC of Rs 700 on light duty vehicles and two-axle trucks, and Rs 1300 on three- and four-axle trucks and above. The ECC was levied per entry.

However, the Supreme Court by its December 16, 2015 order doubled the ECC by increasing Rs 700 to Rs 1,400, and Rs 1,300 to Rs 2,600.