Jaipur: The Rajasthan High Court on Monday asked the Centre and the state government to explain the rationale behind "arbitrarily" setting up toll plazas on national highways in the state and fixing tolls on "arbitrary basis".

A division bench of the court issued show cause notice to state and Central authorities, including NHAI, seeking explanation "on the arbitrary toll plazas installed on national highways crossing the state, as also increase in toll plazas and rise in toll rates on arbitrary basis."

The bench has also questioned the authorities to explain the reasons as to why the financial model developed by the NHAI provides huge concession period for charging very high rate of toll tax from public, despite the fact that the capital cost of the project is usually realised within a period of 3 to 7 years.

The court also observed that,"No efforts are being made by the NHAI to assess the correctness of the huge durations of concession period of 20 to 30 years."

The order came on a petition filed by retired chief justice RS Verma and two others.

"It is beyond our comprehensions, as to how an additional tax in the name of toll tax could be imposed when already there is cess besides road tax and other prevailing taxes like service tax, income tax etc for the same purpose," said Verma in his petition.

It has been argued in the petition that in other sectors like telecom etc, there are independent regulatory authorities to supervise the concerned sector for transparency and
accountability.

But for this sector there is neither such independent regulatory mechanism nor government has given any thought to constitute such body.

"The manner in which huge amount of toll tax is being collected without any transparency and accountability, it may result in big scam," alleges the petitioners.

It has been prayed in the petition to cancel or alter the current toll rates and also quash the imposition of multiple taxation in the name of cess, road tax, toll tax on transportation alone.

The petitioners have also prayed for setting up of a Regulatory committee to monitor the toll rates across the state.

(Agnecies)

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