Kerala HC declines to stay proceedings on leasing Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani group

South India


The Kerala high court on Tuesday, August 25, declined the Left Democratic Front government’s plea for a stay on further proceedings on the Central government’s decision to lease out the Trivandrum International Airport to the Adani Enterprises Limited.

A division bench of the court comprising Justices K. Vinod Chandran and T.R. Ravi said it wanted a final hearing on the main petition filed by the state government in March last year challenging the decision of the Airport Authority of India to grant the contract to the Adani group.

The government pointed out that the State government had substantial proprietary and other rights over the land on which the airport was constructed. Besides, as the grant of lease/concession had been approved when the matter was sub judice, the balance of convenience was in favour of the government, the government said.

The Kerala government had moved the high court in March 2019 challenging the AAI move to lease out the airport to the Adani Group, saying that such a decision is against public interest as it will not result in better management of the airport and the state stands to lose in the matter.

However, the court dismissed the government petition stating that the plea was ‘premature’ and ‘not maintainable’ in the high court.  Subsequently, the government moved the Supreme Court, which set aside the high court judgment and sent back the matter to the high court for considering the government’s challenge on merit.

The government had contended that the grant of the right of operation, management, and development of the airport to Adani Enterprises Limited, which had no previous experience in managing airports, was not in public interest and violated the provisions of the AAI Act as well as the proprietary right of the State government over the land where the airport was situated.

The government’s petition had pointed out that the Centre had assured the State in 2003 that taking into account the contribution being made by the State for the acquisition of additional land for the airport, it would be consulted at the time when a decision to privatise the management of the airport was taken. This assurance had been violated.

Last week’s decision to lease out the airport to the Adani group has led to a political flashpoint between the state and the Centre. The assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution against the 50-year contract to the private developer, a move the Centre termed “regressive and far removed from public opinion".



All Comments