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Private airport operators can be audited: CAG

business Updated: Aug 11, 2016 11:43 IST
Tushar Srivastava

Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, developed and maintained by a GMR-led consortium.(Hindustan Times)

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said its right to audit the private operators of the Delhi and Mumbai airports cannot be “questioned”, raising hopes that passengers may get to know how the money paid by them towards the development of India’s two biggest airports was spent, or shared with the government.

The GMR and GVK Group-led consortiums, which run the Delhi and Mumbai airports respectively, have blocked the national auditor’s efforts to examine their accounts, as first reported by HT.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which owns a 26% stake in both Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) and Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), has appointed the CAG as its representative to carry out the audit of the joint venture partners since it earns major chunk of its revenue from them.

The AAI officials said both the private operators had refused to share documents relating to their accounts.

CAG chief Shashi Kant Sharma has written to aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju that the “proposed audit” cannot be questioned in the wake of an apex court judgement.

“The Supreme Court of India in its judgement in the case of ‘Association of Unified Teleservices Providers and others v/s Union of India’ has upheld the right of the CAG to carry out the audit of private entities, which share their revenue with the government. In the wake of this, the proposed audit of revenues flowing into the AAI from DIAL, or MIAL by the CAG should not be questioned,” Sharma wrote in the letter.

While MIAL did not comment, a DIAL spokesperson said, “DIAL, in principle, is not against any audit by the AAI as per the provisions of the OMDA. However, in terms of the provisions of Article 149 of the constitution of India read with sections 15 to 20 of the CAG Act, 1971, as per the CAG own guidelines on PPP and also as per the provisions of the concession agreement (OMDA), there does not exist authority in favour of CAG to conduct the audit of PPP (public private partnership) Projects.”

“The judgment of Supreme Court only upholds the CAG’s power to audit the telecom operators proceeded solely on the basis of Rule 5 of the Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) and the concession agreement of the service providers. This judgment cannot be applicable in case of a PPP project such as IGI Airport. DIAL, however, has always shared all relevant documents with AAI as and when asked for,” the spokesperson added.