Setback for Kerala govt as HC dismisses petition against privatization of Trivandrum Airport

Walayar Case to be re-trialed Says Kerala HC

In a setback to the LDF government in the state, the Kerala high court (HC) on Monday dismissed pleas challenging the Centre’s decision to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, which is known as Trivandrum International airport, to Adani Enterprises, holding that there was no valid ground to interfere with the policy decision.

A division bench comprising justices K. Vinod Chandran and C.S. Dias rejected arguments by the state government and other petitioners against the Centre’s move to lease out the airport to Adani Enterprises through public-private partnership (PPP) for a period of 50 years.

Referring to the unsuccessful bid by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), the nominee of the state, under the request for proposal (RFP) (tender document) for the airport project, it said the petitions challenging the lease decision was a classic example of sour grapes.

We conclude that there is absolutely no valid ground to cause interference to the proceedings challenged in the batch of writ petitions. As is discernible from the averments in the writ petitions, the challenge is against privatisation which is the declared policy of the Union government,” it said.

Concerning airports, it was public-private participation which has been statutorily declared by incorporation of section 12A to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Act, it noted.

There is no challenge to the statutory provision. Interference to a policy framed by the elected government is trite, is difficult, and the feeble challenge raised herein against the policy is devoid of merit”, the court said.

The bid failed and both (the state and KSIDC) have now turned against the very RFP under which they participated, with an edge over others… the case set up by them, according to us, is a classic example of the proverbial sour grapes,” the bench said in its order. It dismissed the batch of petitions filed by the state government, the KSIDC, and a host of others challenging the Centre’s decision.