The Kerala High Court on Monday dismissed the state government’s petition seeking a stay on the Centre’s move to lease out Thiruvananthapuram international airport to the Adani Enterprises, reported NDTV. The Pinarayi Vijayan-led state government had moved the court in August after an all-party-meeting demanded a rollback of the Union Cabinet’s decision.
A division bench Justices K Vinod Chandran and CS Dias delivered the verdict, PTI reported.
In 2019, Adani Enterprises won a bid to operate the Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati airports through a public-private partnership model.
The Union Cabinet had approved a proposal to lease out the Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram airports through a public-private partnership model in August this year. Currently, these airports are managed by the Airports Authority of India. The Centre had decided to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram airport to the Adani Group for 50 years.
Chief Minister Vijayan had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that the move was against an assurance given to him personally. The Opposition Congress had also criticised the Centre’s move to lease out the airport to the Adani group.
Last month, the High Court had dismissed a petition challenging the Union Cabinet’s decision. The state government then filed an application in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s order. The top court set aside the judgement of the High Court and remanded the plea back to it. That plea was dismissed on Monday.
The Kerala government had argued in the High Court that the handover of an airport built on government land to a private company was against the state’s interests, The Indian Express reported. The state government said it was ignored even when Vijayan agreed to match Adani’s bid of Rs 168 per passenger for the maintenance of the airport.
The High Court said on Monday that to take part in the bidding process and then term the same process wrong cannot be justified. It dismissed the state’s claim that the bidding process was shaped to suit Adani.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s directive, the state government had earlier issued a directive saying: “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.”
In August, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said that the Kerala government did not qualify in the international bidding process for Thiruvananthapuram airport.