The National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988

The National Highways Authority of India Act was passed in the year 1988 for the constitution of an Authority which develops and maintains the national highways; Act consists of 37 Sections by notification of Central Government. National Highways Authority of India constituted under Section 3 of the Act to perform the objectives and functions laid for the proper maintaining of Highways in India. Authority under Act consists of ten members including a chairperson and the Central Government has authority to appoint a person as a member and if it thinks the person as unfit for the post as member it can disqualify the person under Section 5. And a member whoever ceased from the office of the Authority under the specified terms they may be eligible for the re-appointment as member. With regard to the transactions of business, Authority will meet all the members at a time and place specified by the Chairman, all the questions raised in the meeting should be decided by majority of votes made by the members. No vacancy in the Authority would invalidate any proceedings laid for the upliftment of the Authority.

In case of dealing with any additional powers and functions laid under Authority, Authority may however may employs any additional member as officers, advisers or consultants to look after the work specified by the Authority as dealt in Section 9 and Authority while establishing its principles and functions laid under Act it must act on business principles as dealt in Section 10. After the Commencement of the Act all rights and liabilities laid under the control of Central Government transferred to the National Highways Authority and Authority must look all the matters deals under Section 11 and 12.

Where for the development of any highway or for any extension of highway when Authority was in need of any land for the public purpose it has the right with regard to  acquisition of land under the provisions laid in National Highways Act, 1956.  Dealing with mode of performing contracts under Section 15, Authority acts as a competent person to enter in to any contracts for the proper discharge of functions. Chairperson acts as a head of the Authority for executing any contract specified in Act and Authority while dealing with the contract or classes of contract specified with the common seal of the Authority. Authority while dealing with the contracts have special restrictions as it should not hold with the acquisition of immovable property and should not exceed the amount fixed by the Central Government.

Authority has wide functions to perform under Section 16 of Act, by rules made by the Central Government Authority has power to initiate, maintain and develop the highways and national highways entrusted to it by the Central Government as deem fit. To discharge its objectives for the proper functioning of highways under Act, Authority has other functions to control the plying of vehicles on the highways and advise to the Central Government regarding the implementation of programmes for improvement of highways. As under Section 16 (2) (k), Authority has power to collect fee on behalf of Central Government for rendering services laid under Section 7 of National Highways Act, 1956.

There been a fund initiated by the Authority under Section 18, the fund constituted may credit all the sums in to Authority fund and Central Government by notification shall grant any sum to the Authority for discharge of its function under Section 17. In each financial year authority must prepare the budget with regard to the estimates costs and expenditure for the need of Authority for the next financial year and the same budget forwarded to the Central Government to make approval. Authority under Section 20 has provision to invest funds in the securities of Central Government and it has power to receive any sums from any source by issuing any bonds and debentures thereon. Authority not only has the authority to perform the functions laid under Act, it also has duty bound to create annual report and settle the accounts and work relating to audit.

All the employees of the Authority called as public servants as specified in Section 21 of Indian Penal Code, and there can be no suit or legal proceeding taken against the Authority or against the Central Government as functions laid by the Authority and Government done in good faith. Central Government has wide power or role to cast his authority on Authority specified under the Act, Central Government in interest of public has power to direct the Authority to initiate any work relating to highway. If Authority supersede any proceeding laid under Act, Central Government has authority to issue directions as laid in Section 33 and it has other power to make regulation and remove any difficulties in the Act by making notification in the Official Gazette.

by Priyadarshini Chandrasekar