Delhi Metro moves SC against order to pay Rs60 crore to Reliance Infra unit
New Delhi: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court’s order directing it to pay Rs60 crore as three months interest to a lender of its former concessionaire for airport express line.
The DMRC’s counsel mentioned the matter before a vacation bench comprising Justices P.C. Pant and Deepak Gupta which said it would hear the issue on 19 June.
The corporation has challenged the 7 June order of high court’s division bench which had dismissed its appeal against a single judge order asking it to pay the amount.
The single judge’s interim order of 30 May had come on a plea by the concessionaire Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) seeking early payment of Rs3,502 crore, which is 75% of the arbitral award of Rs4,670 crore granted in its favour on 11 May.
The single judge had passed the order “in view of the financial conditions and interest burden being borne” by DAMEPL which had claimed it was paying Rs65 lakh per day, coming to Rs20 crore per month, as interest to its lender.
In its appeal before the high court’s division bench, the DMRC had challenged the interim order, saying it would amount to partial implementation of the award and would also be akin to dismissal of its objections against enforcement of award. The division bench had said that it was not inclined to interfere with the 30 May order as it was an interim decision and the issues raised by the DMRC have been kept open by the single judge.
The court had also noted that single judge had protected the DMRC’s interests by directing DAMEPL, a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure , to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs65 crore. DAMEPL is a joint venture of Reliance Infra and a Spanish construction company—Construcciones Y Auxiliar De Ferrocarriles—with a shareholding of 95% and 5% respectively.
The single judge had directed the DMRC to deposit the amount of Rs60 crore within 10 days directly into DAMEPL’s loan account with Axis Bank—the main lender. 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 DMRC had argued before the single judge that the NITI Aayog guidelines would not apply in the matter as the award was of 11 May and it had 90 days to challenge the arbitral tribunal’s decision. The Airport Express line was commissioned on 23 February 2011 after an investment of Rs2,885 crore funded by DAMEPL’s promoters’ fund, banks and financial institutions.
DAMEPL has said in its plea before the single judge that it had terminated the concession agreement as the DMRC had not cured some defects in the line within 90 days of the notice issued by it. According to its plea, the agreement was terminated with effect from 1 January 2013 and the project was handed over to the DMRC on 30 June 2013.
Till handing over of the project, DAMEPL had operated the line as a deemed agent of DMRC. Arbitration was entered into in August 2013 after efforts to amicably resolve the issues did not yield results.
Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay High court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.