SC to hear plea of Centre against HC order quashing award granted to GMR for Nagpur airport

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 09-02-2024 12:36 IST | Created: 09-02-2024 12:36 IST
SC to hear plea of Centre against HC order quashing award granted to GMR for Nagpur airport
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The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear in detail the curative plea of the Centre and the Airport Authority of India against its judgement that had paved the way for the GMR Airports to upgrade and operate Nagpur's Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport.

A special four-judge bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and JK Maheshwari took note of the submissions of the Centre and the AAI that they were not heard during the earlier proceedings.

The Bombay High Court, on August 18, 2021, had quashed a March 2020 communication issued by MIHAN India Ltd (Multimodal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur), a joint venture between Maharashtra Airport Development Company and the AAI, cancelling an award granted to GMR Airports for upgradation and operation of the Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, calling it ''arbitrary and unfair''.

The appeal against the high court judgment was dismissed by the top court in 2022.

The review plea against the verdict was also trashed by the Supreme Court leading to the filing of the curative plea by the Centre and the AAI claiming that they are the necessary parties to any dispute concerning the airport, its running and upgradation as the subject falls under the Union List of the seventh schedule of the Constitution.

"These kinds of disputes can never be heard behind the Centre and the AAI. This is not the simple lease of land," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the AAI, said.

The law officer said the AAI discharges sovereign functions of the State and only, some of the functions relating to the airport are out-sourced under OMDA (the Operation, Management and Development Agreement) to the private party.

The State manages activities like emigration, security and customs at airports and hence, it cannot be said that the Centre and the AAI are not the necessary parties.

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for GMR Airports, opposed the curative plea and said the AAI was a part of the joint venture firm, MIHAN India Ltd, and were heard during the judicial proceedings.

"Let the case be listed for a detailed consideration preferably on a non-miscellaneous day," the CJI said.

The Bombay High Court judgement, in 2021, had paved way for GMR Airports to upgrade and run the Nagpur airport.

''We find that the impugned communication is arbitrary, unfair and unreasonable and, therefore, it deserves to be quashed and set aside,'' the high court had said while quashing the communication of MIHAN India Ltd.

MIHAN India Ltd had cancelled the award granted to GMR Airports to upgrade and operate of the airport.

The high court had also ordered MIHAN to execute a concession agreement with the GMR group.

The HC order had come on the petition filed by GMR Airports challenging the action of MIHAN in annulling the bidding process for upgradation, modernisation, operation and management of the Nagpur international airport despite the process having come to an end and the petitioner (GMR) already having been awarded the project by way of a Letter of Award on March 7, 2019.

According to the plea, MIHAN was planning to issue fresh tenders for the project.

MIHAN had, however, claimed the communication sent to the petitioner on March 7, 2019, was only a bid acceptance letter and not a letter of award.

The company said the communication clearly stated that the acceptance of the bid was conditional and required approval from the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Later, the case came up to the top court which dismissed the appeal and review plea against the high court judgement.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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