Passengers flying out of Delhi got a temporary relief on Wednesday with the Delhi high court staying the levy of airport development fee at Delhi airports by the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) with immediate effect.
Since March 1, 2009, a fee of R200 is being collected from a domestic passenger and Rs 1,300 from an international passenger. The order meant that the fees need not be paid from Thursday.
Relying on a April 27, 2010, order of the Supreme Court, NGO Resources of Aviation Redressal Association argued no development fee could be levied or collected from the embarking passengers at major airports unless the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority determines the rates of such development fee.
The Delhi high court had on May 13, 2009, granted legal sanctity to it finding no illegality. The court had then rejected the argument of NGO that the levy was "ex-facie illegal" and "unconstitutional". It argued that extra charge was not justified as no extra facility was being provided to the passengers. It questioned the power of DIAL to impose a fee and said only the Airport Authority of India (AAI) was empowered to do so.
The court had said stopping them from collecting the fee would frustrate the whole government policy of involving private participation in the sector which will help it in establishing international standards. But in its judgment in the appeal filed by the NGO, Supreme Court quashed the levy saying: "We hold that development fees could not be levied and collected by the lessees of the two major airports, namely, DIAL and MIAL, on the authority of the two letters dated February 9, 2009, and February 27, 2009, of the central government from the embarking passengers under the provisions of Section 22A of the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994."
The Supreme Court said the development fee could be levied or collected from the embarking passengers at major airports, "unless the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority determines the rates of such development fee".
The matter for determining the rates will now be heard afresh by the appellate tribunal.
In a statement issued after the court stay, DIAL said it "has asked all airlines not to collect the airport development fee until further communication".