The Kerala government on Friday filed an application in the high court, seeking a stay on the Union government’s move to lease out Thiruvananthapuram international airport to Adani Enterprises.
In the plea, the government said the airport was handed over to a private entity while ignoring the state’s opposition and that a petition was already pending in the court questioning the 50-year lease.
The state government filed the application a day after an all-party-meeting in Kerala demanded withdrawal of the Union government’s decision.
Last year, the high court dismissed a petition challenging the decision, terming it as not maintainable under Article 226 of the Constitution. The state government then 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.
Referring to the top court directive, the state government said: “All further proceedings in relation to grant of lease with regard to operation, management and development of Thiruvananthapuram international airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd, is to be stayed pending disposal of the aforementioned writ petition.”
The Adani Enterprises won the rights to run six airports — Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati — through the PPP model after a competitive bidding process in February, 2019. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) had taken part in the bidding.
Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri tweeted: “If Kerala Govt is against privatisation, then why did it participate in the bidding process? State Govt was given a fair chance & Right of First Refusal (RoFR) if their bid was within 10% below the range of highest bid. However, they bid 19.64 % below.”
“Then they approached Hon’ble Kerala High Court which dismissed the petition in Dec 2019. Petitioners then filed a SLP in Hon’ble SC. Apex Court remitted the matter back to Hon’ble Kerala High Court. There is no stay in the case either by Hon’ble SC or Hon’ble Kerala High Court.
“The Union Cabinet has given its go-ahead for awarding the airport to the private party subject to the outcome of Writ Petition & in accordance with provisions of undertaking given by the Concessionaire,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) decided to send 200,000 mails to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him not to lease out the airport to Adani Enterprises. “During pandemic times, the Centre is privatising all sectors, including civil aviation and railways. A selected group of businessmen are thriving under the present regime. We will not allow the transfer of the airport,” said party leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.