In its plea, the Kerala government has called out the decision to lease the airport to a private entity who has no prior experience in the sector
The Kerala government has also claimed that the Centre had assured the state that it would be consulted at the time any decision regarding privatisation was taken
New Delhi: The Kerala state government has moved the Supreme Court to seek a stay on the decision to lease out Thiruvananthapuram Airport to Adani Enterprises. In its plea, the Kerala government has called out the decision of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to grant rights of operation and management of an airport to a private entity who has no prior experience in the sector and has argued that the decision is not in public interest.
Kerala govt transferred land to AAI free-of-cost for construction of airport
The Kerala government has claimed that the Centre had assured the state that it would be consulted at the time any decision regarding privatisation was taken, considering the contribution made by the state government towards the cost for acquisition of land for sirport expansion. The plea said that the state by government Order dated 29.3.2005 had accorded sanction for transfer of 27 acres of land in favour of AAI free of cost for the construction of new airport. It further said that the petitioner has acted on the assurance given that in the event, if a Special Purpose Vehicle is set up for the Thiruvananthapuram Airport, then the value of land would need to be reflected as the Government of Kerala’s share capital.
“It is submitted that the High Court proceeded on the wrong premise that as per Section 13(2) of Airport Authority Act, 1994 the lands acquired by the State Government for the purpose of the Airport vests in AAI and the State cannot stake any ownership over the said property since the acquisition and transfer of the properties were made voluntarily without any conditions and without pursuing claims for equity participation,” the plea said.
‘Decision to hand over Thiruvananthapuram Airport to Adani not in public interest’
Kerala has also termed the entire tender process as vitiated in its plea and has claimed that it is in violation of the provisions of the AAI, 1994 (Act). “Further the attempt on the part of the AAI to grant right of Operation, Management and Development of Thiruvananthapuram Airport, to a private party, who has no previous experience in managing airports, is not in public interest and is in violation of the provisions of the Act, as well as the proprietary rights of the State Government as regards the land wherein the Thiruvananthapuram Airport is situated,” the plea stated. It also termed the decision “arbitrary and illegal.”
The plea has been filed by the Kerala state government against the October 19 order of the High Court of Kerala. The HC had dismissed the Kerala government’s plea by stating that the challenge is against privatisation of airport and privatisation is a policy decision of the Central government and hence is devoid of merit. The HC had also rejected the contention of of legitimate expectation made by Kerala on the ground that there can be no claim of promissory estoppel as no promise having been extended by the Centre. Promissory estoppel is a doctrine in contract law that stops a person from going back on a promise even if a legal contract does not exist. It states that an aggrieved party can recover damages from a promisor if the damages incurred were the result of a promise made by the promisor, which the receiver of the promise relied on to his subsequent detriment.
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