The Development of Tiruvanathapauram Airport will be executed by the Gujarat based Adani group unless the Supreme Court overturns the Kerala High Court Judgement which had ruled that handing over the Airport to a private company is a Policy decision of the Central Government and that the Court cannot intefere with it.
A division bench of the Kerala high court comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice C S Dias dismissed Kerala government's petition challenging the central government's decision to lease out the right of operation of the airport to the Adani group.
According to the Kerala government, the Assembly had on August 24 unanimously resolved to request the Union government to avoid handing over the operation and management of the Thiruvananthapuram airport to private players and instead consider a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed by the state government. In fact, the right of first refusal was offered to the (SPV) with range parameters
Senior Supreme Court lawyer said many clauses in RFP tailor made to suit private players
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Vikas Singh, who represented the Kerala government, submitted that many clauses in the Request for Proposal (RFP) were tailor made to suit private players. However, the court rejected this contention.
He also contended that the state Chief Minister had offered to enhance the passenger tariff on a par with the amount quoted by Adani Enterprises. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) should have held negotiations with the state before finalising the tender. Hence, the state sought to declare that the AAI is bound to accept its proposal.
The counsel who appeared for Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) submitted that a state owned Corporation cannot compete in the tender like a commercial player and the sole criteria based on passenger fee would burden the passengers.
Tender procedure was carried out in a transparent manner said Centre
Defending its decision, the Centre had contended that the tender procedure was carried out in a transparent manner and special advantage was given to KSIDC considering the Kerala government’s request. The Centre had no other option but to proceed with awarding the lease agreement to Adani Enterprises, the highest bidder, as the State government entity, KSIDC did not fall within parameters of the RFP. The government added that the decision to go for the PPP mode of operation, management and development of airports was taken purely on public interest. It was also a policy decision of the Union government.
Adani enterprises argued that the property acquired and transferred to Airport Authority of India completely vests with the Authority and therefore neither the State Government, nor KSIDC has any locus standi to lay any claim on the basis of transfer of such property. They also pointed out that 25 bidders had registered and 10 bidders submitted 32 bids for various airports.