The High Court of Karnataka has dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition questioning the Union government’s decision to hand over Mangaluru International Airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd. for operation, maintenance and development.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has followed the most transparent process in leasing out airports. This airport has not been leased out by way of private negotiation. Tenders were issued and the successful bidder has been awarded the contract and there is no violation of any statutory provision of law in the matter, the court said.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed the order while dismissing the petition filed the Airports Authority Employees Union, Mangaluru International Airport.
The petitioner union has not been able to make out a case for interference in respect of the policy decision of the Union government for leasing out airports, the Bench said, while pointing out that the union has not been able to show any violation of statutory law and Constitutional provisions.
Also, it is nobody’s case that the AAI has handed over all functions under Section 12(3) of the Airports Authority of India Act 1994 to the private company as it is pertinent to note that only seven functions, out of the 18, of the airports are the subject matter of the public-private partnership, the Bench noted.
Referring to a verdict of the High Court of Kerala, which had dismissed a similar petition filed by the union questioning the privatisation of Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Bench held that the petitioner union “has not approached the court with clean hands as it had suppressed the fact of filing a similar writ petition” before the High Court in the neighbouring State.
The union had questioned the legality of the decision of the Union Cabinet Committee taken on November 8, 2018 in respect of privatisation of airports, the subsequent bidding process as well as a Cabinet decision of July 3, 2019 accepting the bid of Adani Enterprises Ltd. and the consequential concession agreement signed on February 14, 2020.
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