Petition filed by the State of Kerala was adjourned by the Supreme Court on 20th February. The Court adjourned the petition filed by the State of Kerala against the decision of the Centre to hand over the operation of the Thiruvananthapuram Airport to the Adani Group. The State of Kerala approached the Apex Court assailing the order of the Kerala High Court which dismissed the writ petition filed by the State saying that the writ petition was not maintainable.
High Court’s decision
The petition was dismissed by the Kerala High Court on the ground that since the dispute is between the State and the Centre, the same won’t be maintainable under Article 226 of the Constitution, and it can only be heard by the Supreme Court under its jurisdiction under Article 131 of the Constitution of India. The State of Kerala argued that since the State had arrayed the Airport Authority of India and various other Private Parties in the matter, hence a writ petition under Article 226 would be maintainable. The Kerala High Court however rejected this contention and there the State approached the Supreme Court challenging this decision.
- The State cited plethora of cases wherein it has been stated that when private parties are also arrayed as parties to the suit, the jurisdiction under Article 131 would not be invoked.
- The State also contended that the decision is against the provisions of the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994, further they also contended that the decision is against the interest of better management of the Airport.
The State’s Contention
A plethora of precedents which were laid down by the Supreme Court of India were cited by the State wherein it was held that jurisdiction under Article 131 of the Constitution of India would not be invoked when private parties are also arrayed as parties. Various judgments such as State of Bihar v. Union of India, State of Rajasthan v. Union of India, TashiDelek Gaming Solutions Ltd. v. State of Karnataka were cited by the State. The State said:
“Article 131 of the Constitution of India does not contemplate any private party being arrayed as a disputant on one side or the other and Article 131 will not be applicable where citizens or private bodies are parties either jointly or in the alternate with the State or the Government of India.”
The decision of the Airport Authority of India, to hand over the management, operation and development of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd. was the main dispute in the case. In the writ petition before the Kerala High Court the State contented that the decision of the Airport Authority of India did not consider public interest, it was further added that, in fact the decision also vitiates the process of tender.
The State further added that the State Government was willing to take the project and also said that the bid was at par with the bid by the Adani Enterprises Ltd. Despite this fact the project was handed over to the Adani Group, despite of the fact that the Group had no earlier experience of running or managing Airports as opposed to the State Government which is successfully running several Airports in the State.
The petition further added, the decision goes against the provisions of the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994 and also is not in the interest of better management of the Airport. The State said, “The attempted grant of concession being in violation of an earlier undertaking by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India and rejecting the proposal of the State Government to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to take over and run the Airport on revenue sharing basis.”
The State of Kerala is seeking to challenge the order of dismissal as well as seeking a stay on the operation of the decision of the AAI till the disposal of the matter.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. State of Kerala v. UOI (SLP on Thiruvananthapuram Airport)