On February 28, 2020 Supreme Court bench headed by CJI S.A. Bobde along with Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant remanded back to the Kerala High Court the petition of the Kerala government challenging the proposal of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to grant the Thiruvananthapuram airport's management rights to the Adani group.
The apex court said that the contention with regard to applicability of Article 131 (which relates to the dispute between Centre and states) of Constitution of India, 1950 would remain open for further hearing if needed.
In its appeal filed in the apex court, the Kerala government has said that 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 is submitted that for determining as to whether a suit before the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution has to be taken recourse to, it is necessary to consider whether the state can, in the facts of the given case, independently maintain a suit against government of India,” it said.
The Kerala government had moved the high court and then the apex court against the proposal of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to grant management and operation rights of the airport to the Adani Enterprises Limited for the next 50 years.
The Kerala High Court had on December 18, 2019 dismissed the plea filed by the state "as not maintainable" and said that the question raised in the petition has to be decided by the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
In its plea it was alleged that attempt on the part of AAI to grant 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 was violative of the provisions of the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994 among others.
The Trivandrum International Airport in Thiruvananthapuram was established in 1932 on 258.06 acres of land owned by the princely state of Travancore, of which the state is the successor. The Adani group had won the bid to operate five out of six airports, including the Trivandrum International Airport, proposed for privatisation by the Centre.
Author – Satwik Sharma