The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice SK Kaul heard today a batch of cases mentioned by MC Mehta related to environmental issues. While hearing the cases, the bench came to know that there was no contribution towards the RRTS Project (Regional Rapid Transit System) from the Delhi Government (AAP) due to budgetary constraints. In this context, the top Court directed the Delhi Government to file an affidavit disclosing the funds used for advertisements in the last three financial years. The RRTS Project is slated to be a semi-high-speed rail corridor between Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut and Delhi. The bench also directed the Delhi Government (AAP) to file an affidavit for the same within two weeks. The SC bench ordered “The Delhi State Government has expressed its inability to contribute the funds for the project. Since paucity of funds seems to be an impediment in the project on behalf of the NCT of Delhi, we call upon the NCT of Delhi to file an affidavit setting forth the funds utilized for advertisements by the State Government as the project is of considerable importance. Details will be furnished for the last three financial years.”
During the proceedings, the SC asked the Delhi Government (AAP), “If you have money for advertisements, why don’t you have money for a project that will ensure smooth transport?” The Court further remarked, “You have put out ads? Don’t force us to make comments. That’s also an expenditure. Normally, courts don’t question budgetary policy, but if you say you don't have money we want to know where it went.” The Counsel appearing for the Kejriwal-led AAP Government submitted that “In December 2020 itself, the DG had informed NCRTC. They conveyed their in principle approval…They also expressed their inability to provide their share of the funds.” To this Justice Kaul asked for the reason for the same to which the Counsel replied that “Because of lack of funds. That was the cabinet decision.” Further Justice Kaul said, “Let us check what funds you have been spending…We will say that all funds for advertisement will be diverted…Do you want that kind of order?” Arguing for the same, the counsel submitted that “In 2020 we communicated that there aren’t any funds available with us. The position has worsened due to COVID. The GST compensation provided by the Centre has also been stopped since the last financial year. Therefore there are no finances available.” In this context, one of the judges from the bench said “Is it required at one go? Let us see how much you spend on other things. This is a development project. Though financial aspects we leave to the State government but for a project of this nature when you say no funds we want to know how much you have spent on something like an advertisement. Making a project is also an advertisement that you are doing something.” Lastly, the SC bench ordered to disclose of the funds used for the advertisement from 2020 within two weeks.