The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has proposed to amend a section of the Metro Railways (Operation & Maintenance) Act 2002 to ensure that no attachment of properties or bank accounts or any asset of any metro rail can ever be carried out, sources said.
The move comes in the wake of a recent order passed by the High Court in a case involving the Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
The Delhi High Court on February 27 had asked the Centre to decide on the issue of granting sanction for attaching moveable and immovable assets of the DMRC over the unpaid amount of arbitral award to Reliance Infrastructure-promoted DAMEPL.
An office memorandum issued by a senior official in the ministry on March reads, "The undersigned is directed to say that this Ministry proposes to amend Section 89 of the Metro Railways (Operation & Maintenance) Act 2002 (60 of 2002). A background note is enclosed at Annexure-I".
The memorandum also says that "it is requested to provide the comments in respect of the draft bill at the earliest within two weeks time from the date of issue of this OM".
The background note attached with it said as per the Allocation of Business Rules 1961, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is the nodal agency for planning and coordination of urban transport system.
"At present, 845 km of metro lines are operational in 20 different cities and about 991 km of metro rail projects (including Delhi Meerut RRTS) are under construction in various cities of the country," it says.
The operation and maintenance of railway line in the country is governed by the Metro Railways (Operation & Maintenance) Act 2002 (60 of 2002). Section 89 of the act deals with restriction on execution against metro railway property, it adds.
The need to amend section has been felt in view of the recent order passed by the High Court of Delhi in the matter of DAMEPL vs DMRC, cites the background note.
Sanction of attachment of properties of DMRC was denied by the central government as that would "entail closure of DMRC and bringing the entire city to a halt", it says.
In view of the above background, the Ministry is of the opinion to amend the Section 89 "to make it absolute so that no attachment of properties or bank accounts or any assets of any metro railways properties can ever be carried out," the background note says.
Asserting that Delhi Metro is the lifeline of the national capital and adjoining regions, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri recently had directed officials to revisit a Metro Railways Act provision to ensure no properties or bank accounts of the metro can be attached ever.
The noting was made by Puri in the document attached in an additional affidavit filed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in the Delhi High Court on March 3.
He refused to give permission to attach properties of Delhi Metro, saying it has become the lifeline of Delhi and the National Capital Region with the livelihood of lakhs of people depending on it.