Publication of an RFQ and its processing are within the powers of the ministry: affidavit

Law authorises the department of civil aviation to develop and provide consultancy, construction or management services and undertake operations in the country and abroad in relation to airports.

Under the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Act, the publication of a request for qualification (RFQ) and processing the same by inviting tender bids for operation, management and transfer of Chennai airport by entering into a contract necessary for discharge of functions of the ministry, were well within the powers conferred. The RFQ was only preliminary.

This has been stated by the department in an affidavit before the Madras High Court to a writ petition by the Airports Authority Employees’ Union questioning the validity of the decision to privatise Chennai airport, both national and international. The petition was filed on the grounds of a violation of the Act and also as being ultra vires of the Constitution.

On January 29, the court had granted an interim injunction restraining the Centre from proceeding any further with regard to RFQ from private parties for managing the airport here.

The affidavit said there was a need to improve the standard of services and facilities in the airport to bring it on par with international standards. To achieve this, the law had been amended. The Act empowered the AAI to act on business principles in the discharge of its functions. Moreover, the law empowered the department to establish airports or assist in the establishment of private airports by rendering technical, financial or other assistance.  Leasing of airports in public interest or in the interest of the management could also be done.

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