The Madras High Court on Wednesday admitted a petition seeking to quash an order of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) of September 2009 awarding licence to a consortium for providing ground handling services at the Chennai and Kolkata airports.

Ordering notice, the First Bench comprising the Chief Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice T.S.Sivagnanam said the notice would be returnable in four weeks.

In the petition, Oveyam Ranjan, president, S.C.C.Anthony Pillai Labour Union, had submitted that licence for ground handling services worth hundreds of crores of rupees had been awarded to a consortium consisting of M/s Bhadra International (India) Ltd and M/s. Novia International Consulting APS, flouting all norms.

As a result of awarding of the contract to the consortium, operators in ground handling services had been ousted. Employment of thousands of labourers was at stake.

Following a court order during an earlier hearing, the AAI filed a counter affidavit.

In its order, the Bench said it was of the prima facie view that the matter appeared to be serious in nature and should be adjudicated by the court. Hence, it was admitting the petition and ordering notice to respondents, including the CBI, and except the AAI and the Chennai Airport. It also permitted private notice.