Dismissal of its petition against the Union government’s decision to lease Thiruvananthapuram international airport to Adani Enterprises by the Kerala High Court on Monday turned out to be a major setback for the Kerala government.
The major verdict was delivered by the HC division bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and C S Dias. The court dismissed the arguments of the state government and observed that the decision to lease out the airport is Centre’s policy decision.
The court dismissed the state government’s argument that leasing out of the airport for 50 years under the PPP model was not a fair deal. The state government in its plea has also argued that the decision to lease out the right of operation, management and development of the airport to Adani Group is not in public interest since the company has no experience in operating airports.
It was on August 21 that the Kerala government had moved the high court seeking a stay on further proceedings in leasing out the airport. Both the government and the Opposition and prominent political parties in the state have opposed the Centre’s decision and an all-party-meeting has demanded the Centre to drop the plan. But, going against the party line Shahshi Tharoor MP has backed the Centre for privatisation of the airport. All other senior Congress leaders from the state expressed strong opposition and termed the 50-year lease of the airport as a deplorable move. It was after the all-party meeting that the state government filed the petition in High Court.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier sent a letter to PM Narendra Modi seeking reconsidering the decision to privatise the airport.
Last year, the high court had dismissed the petition challenging the decision, terming it as not maintainable under Article 226 of the Constitution.
Though the state government has filed an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the high court order, the apex court set aside the judgement of the high court and the matter was remanded back to it for a decision on merit.
The Centre submitted before the court that the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) had also participated in the bidding. But the KSIDC failed to qualify in the bidding which was carried out in a “transparent manner” and the private entity won the tenders.
Apart from the Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run five other airports such as Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru and Guwahati through a competitive bidding process....