Restrains Centre from proceeding further with regard to Request for Qualification from private parties

The Madras High Court on Wednesday granted an interim injunction till February 5, restraining the Centre from proceeding any further with regard to Request for Qualification (RFQ) from private parties for the management of Chennai airport.

Justice R. Subbiah passed the order on a writ petition by the Airports Authority Employees Union questioning the validity of the decision of the department of civil aviation and the Airports Authority of India to privatise the Chennai airport. The challenge was on the grounds of violation of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Act and also as being ultra-vires of the Constitution.

The petition said, on June 3 last year, the AAI issued an order under the subject ‘infrastructure development’ purportedly to implement the report of the Planning Commission for development, operation and maintenance of identified airports through public, private participation (PPP) and created the Key Infrastructure Development Cell”

The union came to know of the Centre’s agenda to privatise Chennai Airport through PPP for operations, management and transfer by publication of the RFQ notice on September 3 last year giving a schedule for the bidding process.

The decision as visualised in the RFQ was beyond the scope of the provisions of the AAI Act.

The law had the power to establish a private airport. It did not visualise the handing over of the management of an existing airport to a private party. Thus, making a private party responsible for operation, management and development of the entire airport fell outside the scope of the law.

Justice Subbiah posted the matter for February 5. In the meantime, there would be an order of interim injunction as prayed for, he said.

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