A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday adjourned by one month hearing on a writ petition challenging the formation of the Kochi Metro Rail Limited for establishing metro railway in the city.

The petition was filed by V.M. Machael of Kochi. He said that the government order forming a Limited company as a Special Purpose Vehicle(SPV) under the provisions of the Companies Act for setting up metro rail was illegal. The State government had no jurisdiction to issue such an order. In fact, only the Central government had been empowered to issue such an order in terms of the Metro Rail (Construction of Works) Act 1978.

The Central government could appoint a board for advising the State government on the metro-rail project. The State government could only approach the Indian Railways to introduce a mass rapid transport system. The new company could undertake works only under a valid contract with the Central government. No such contract had been signed with the Central government.

The petitioner pointed out that no laws allowed the State government to form such a company. Even the constitution of the board of directors of the company was illegal because the board had been constituted even before the drafting of memorandum and articles of association. Nor any decision was taken by the Cabinet to constitute a company.

The petitioner also said that the decision to demolish the North railway overbridge was illegal. According to him, the company or any other authority had not obtained the mandatory sanction for demolishing the railway overbridge from the Central government or the Railways. He said that even before the Planning Commission had sanctioned the project, the authorities went ahead with the implementation of the project.

He pointed out that, in fact, metro rail was recommended only for metropolitan city with a population of 40 lakh. Kochi city had only a population 6.89 lakh, according to the petitioner. Besides, the financial viability of the project looked very grim.

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