Thursday, June 1, 2023

Rajasthan High Court refuses to interfere in plea against Railways

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The Rajasthan High Court opined that the court is not an expert body, which can delve into feasibility/viability or to decide the alignment of railway line so as to cause interference in the decision taken by the appropriate authority.

The Division Bench of Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Yogendra Kumar Purohit dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) questioning the alignment of railway track to be laid through the Chhoti Sadari town. Prayer is made by the petitioners to direct the respondents to realign the proposed track and to construct it in a straight line passing outside the populated areas of Chhoti Sadari town.

Rakesh Arora, representing the petitioners, vehemently and fervently contended that the proposed railway line, which is sought to be laid from inside the Chhoti Sadari town would have a significant curve and the length thereof would be extended by 2 km as compared to the alignment suggested by the petitioners, which would be an absolutely straight line. He, thus, urged that appropriate directions be issued to the respondents to lay railway line on the path suggested by petitioners after extensive research. In support of his contentions, Arora placed reliance on the order dated 09.05.2022 passed by the Supreme Court in the case of In Re : T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad Vs. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 202/1995].

The High Court was of the view that the prayer made in the petition tantamounts to direct interference in the policy decision of the respondent Ministry of Railways and as such, the court while exercising the extraordinary writ jurisdiction would be loathe to exercise powers in this regard.

The Bench referred to the judgment rendered by the Division Bench of the High Court in the case of Mahesh Chandra Purohit Vs. Container Corporation of India Ltd. & Ors. [AIR 2002 Raj 5], wherein the Division Bench has held has below :-

“10. Thus, it is well settled that when a decision is taken by the Government after due consideration and full application of mind, the Court is not to sit in appeal over such decision. The High Court in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the Constitution will not transgress into the field of policy decisions. Whether to have an infrastructure project or not, or what is the type of project to be undertaken or what should be its location and how it has to be execute, are part of policy making process and the Courts are inequipped to adjudicate on policy decisions so undertaken. Even in case of violation of fundamental rights, the challenge to such policy decisions must be before execution of the project. With respect to the environmental problem, its impact should be seen in relation to the project as a whole.”

In the case of Union of India Vs. Bajrang Lal Sharma [D.B. Civil Special Appeal (Writ) No.192/1991 decided on 06.08.1991], this court accepted the special appeal filed by the Railways and reversed the order passed by the learned single bench directing re-alignment of the proposed broad-gauge line passing through Bikaner.

Further, the court observed that the judgment in the case of In Re : T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad (Supra), on which Arora heavily relied, is clearly distinguishable because the facts under consideration in the said case pertained to doubling of railway line through wild life sanctuary/protected forest reserve. Thus, the said judgment/order is of no avail to the petitioners.

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