The Supreme Court will hear the Kerala government’s appeal against the Centre’s decision to lease Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to Adani Enterprises Limited on March 8, reported ANI. 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 Supreme Court three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice SA Bobde, said the matter will be taken up on March 8.
On October 19, the Kerala High Court dismissed the state government’s petition seeking a stay on the Centre’s move to lease out Thiruvananthapuram international airport to the Adani Enterprises.
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. 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.
On January 15, The Indian Express had reported that the Adani Group won bids for the six airports despite the Ministry of Finance and NITI Aayog raising objections about the 2019 bidding process. Earlier, Newsclick had reported on how the Narendra Modi-led government bypassed norms to allow the Adani Group to gain entry into the airport business.
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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.
In August, 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 Supreme Court set aside the judgement of the High Court and remanded the plea back to it. That petition was dismissed on October 19.
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 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.
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.