PIL in HC against free travel for women on DTC

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A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court challenging the AAP government's decision to provide free travel to women on DTC buses.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the petitioner, a woman, how she was claiming that the decision was unconstitutional or that it required the permission of the central government.

"How is it unconstitutional? How are you saying central government permission is required," the bench asked the petitioner, Azma Zaidi, and asked her to come with answers to its queries on the next date of hearing on January 21.

Advocate Anil Kumar Khaware, representing the woman, contended that women are being provided free travel on buses operated by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DMITS) at the expense of taxpayers.

"It imposes a financial burden on the public exchequer," the petition has contended and sought that the October 28 notification be declared as "illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and unconstitutional".

It has also claimed that the decision creates a class within a class as women are free to buy tickets or not do so and those opting for free travel may face ridicule.

Zaidi, who is a lawyer, has contended that the free travel concession ought to be provided to the elderly, minors and poor segment of society, irrespective of their gender.

She has contended that there is no rationale or data supporting such a move.

She has also said in her plea that DTC in a report to the government has said that it needs an annual subsidy of about Rs 200 crore to implement the scheme in its buses and an additional Rs 100 crore for rolling out the concession in cluster buses operated by DIMTS.

Under the scheme, women opting for free travel are given pink tickets in the buses and the government will reimburse the transporters based on the number of pink tickets issued.

The petition has said that rather than increasing the number of public transport buses to alleviate the difficulty of the people, the existing resources are being "carved out illegally to a particular section of society".

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