The Kerala High Court on Monday (19 October) rejected a petition of the Kerala government challenging the Centre’s decision to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to Adani Group.
Dismissing the state’s petition, a Bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and CS Dias said, “The writ petitions filed by the State and the case set up by them, according to us, is a classic example of the proverbial ‘sour grapes.’”
“Interference to a policy framed by the elected Government it is trite, is difficult, and the feeble challenge raised herein against the policy is devoid of merit.’’
“The state government will take this forward through all legal means, including petitioning the Supreme Court,” said Kerala minister Kadakampally Surendran responding to the dismissal of the petition. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also told the media that the state is against handing over the airport to Adani group.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan-led state government had on 21 August filed an application in August against the Centre’s decision to lease out the airport to Adani Enterprises. The plea followed an all-party-meeting in the state demanding the withdrawal of the Union Cabinet decision.
The court challenge came after Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), formed to participate in the bid, had lost out to Adani Enterprises’ winning bid for the airport’s lease and maintenance. The GMR Group was the third bidder.
The Union Civil Aviation ministry had given Kerala government two options — either be part of the competitive-bidding process or be part of the selection process. As a special privilege, the Kerala government was given the right of first refusal it its bid was within 10 per cent of the winning bidder.
In August, Union Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, hit out at the allegations made by Kerala saying, “The state was given fair chance and the right to first refusal if its bid was within 10% below the range of the highest bid. However, hey bid Q9.65% below.”
In 2019, Adani Enterprises won a bid to operate the Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati airports through a public-private partnership model.
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