In a move that could have far reaching implications on India’s fast growing aviation sector, the ministry of law and justice has given an opinion reasserting the supremacy of the aviation ministry over the airport regulator on policy issues.
The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (Aera) was set up in 2009 to regulate tariff for aeronautical services provided at major airports in India and determine other airport charges. Aera is in the process of drafting a tariff structure for airports. The latest advice means that the ministry will have a greater say on determination of airport charges.
The law department’s advice brings to an end the bitter turf war between the ministry and the Aera that began after theregulator had sought and received an opinion from the additional attorney- general last November that the powers of the central government to issue directions to Aera was not “unbridled” and was restricted to the subjects that are “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality.”
However, the law ministry has now said: “The Aera Act gives the government an independent and additional power to issue directions on subject of policy”. Aera chief Yashwant Bhave declined comment on the issue.
The aviation ministry had sought the law ministry’s views to determine what it called the “the competence and scope of the policy directions that can be issued to Aera by the central government.”
The law ministry, the note said, has now informed that the competence of the government to issue policy directions to Aera has been examined “in consultation with the Attorney General Of India and with the approval of the minister of law and justice, a view has been taken that the Aera Act gives the government an independent and additional power to issue directions on subject of policy”.