The Supreme Court has sent the Kerala government’s petition challenging the Airport Authority of India’s (AAI) proposal to grant the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport's management rights to the Adani group, back to the Kerala High Court.
A Supreme Court bench heard the submissions on behalf of the Kerala government as well as other parties and decided to send the case for adjudication back to the Kerala High Court.
The Supreme Court stated that the contention about applicability of Article 131 (which relates to the dispute between central government and states) of the Constitution would remain open for further hearing if required.
Initially, the Kerala state government had moved the Kerala High Court and later, the Supreme Court, against the AAI’s proposal to grant management and operation rights of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to Adani Enterprises Limited for the next 50 years.
On December 18, 2019, the Kerala High Court had dismissed the plea filed by the Kerala state government “as not maintainable” and it observed that the question raised in the petition has to be decided by the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution of India.
The Kerala state alleged before the Kerala High Court that AAI’s attempt to grant the right of operation, management and development of Thiruvananthapuram airport to a private party, “who has no previous experience in managing airports” was not in public interest and violated provisions of the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994, among other laws.
Later, the Kerala state government filed an appeal before the Supreme Court that the Kerala High Court had “failed to appreciate that Article 131 of the Constitution does not contemplate any private party being arrayed as a party on one side or other”.
It may be recalled that the Adani Group had won the bid to operate five out of six airports, including the Thiruvananthapuram international airport, proposed for privatization by the central government.