Delhi HC seeks response from CRB on Contempt Plea

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  The Delhi High Court today sought a response from Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar on a plea seeking contempt proceedings against him for non-compliance of its direction to set-up a panel to carry out a review of the controversial 125km-long Katra-Banihal section of the rail link to Kashmir. Justice V K Shali issued the show-cause notice to Kumar after it was informed that the railway has not constituted a committee within the stipulated period of four weeks given in May this year.

The court notice came on a contempt plea moved by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), through advocate Prashant Bhushan, who alleged that the act of the respondent (Kumar) amounts to a serious violation of this court’s order.

The plea also alleged that the railway is ignoring the serious concerns raised by the experts regarding the 125km long Katra-Banihal section of the rail link to Kashmir.

The High Court had in May directed the Railway Board to judge the relative technical merits and demerits of the existing and the proposed alternative alignment by an expert committee (which will include E Sreedharan, former chief of DMRC) within eight weeks.

The Board had also been asked to take a decision regarding the alignment and other issues like cost within four weeks thereafter.

Bhushan said “the review of alignment which Railway Board had conducted from February 2008 to August 2009 was scuttled by internal manipulations within the Board and as a result the Board decided on August 31, 2009 to retain the existing flawed alignment without properly examining vital stability and safety issues. The Board also failed to consider an alternative alignment that was stable, safe and economical”.

He further said that despite the orders by the Delhi High Court in December 2009 and September 2012, the Railway Board did not seriously consider CPIL’s representation that the Board should review its August 2009 decision to retain the existing flawed alignment.

The Qazigund-Katra leg of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project was announced by the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.