Dissatisfied with the response of the ministry of civil aviation on the delay in the start of international flights from Chandigarh international airport, the Punjab and Haryana high court, on Monday, sought a response from seven airlines in the country by May 10 on whether they were ready to start international operations.
The directions came even as the high court bench of justice SS Saron and justice Gurmit Ram observed five times during the hearing that it did not want the airlines to become party to the case, stating that it would ‘enlarge the ambit of the petition’.
Jet Airways, Indigo and Air India, among others, have also been asked to list difficulties being faced in starting international operations and suggest solutions. The court has directed the ministry of civil aviation and the Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHIAL) to serve notices to the airlines.
Ministry says Indigo ready to start
In the hearing that lasted over two hours, civil aviation ministry’s counsel, assistant solicitor general Chetan Mittal, told the court that Indigo was ready to commence operation and Air India was also in the process. However, he failed to submit any definite plan especially with regard to foreign airlines.
“Let the land be returned to villagers (from whom it was acquired). Poor people (are) running here and there. You have fooled these 320 villagers,” justice Saron remarked as the Centre failed to submit any definite plan.
The HC was also anguished over the fact that it was the CHIAL CEO who wrote to international carriers seeking the commencement of international operations from city airport. “Who is he? It (letters) should have been done (written) by the ministry,” the bench remarked as court was told that 36 international carriers had been approached in March.
Appearing for CHIAL, senior advocate Atul Nanda informed the court that out of these 36 carriers, seven had responded stating that they would examine the proposal
of CHIAL, after deliberating with their respective governments. The HC was also informed that as directed, Customs facility etc had been added at the airport.
Appearing for the petitioner, Mohali Industries Association, senior advocate Puneet Bali asserted throughout the hearing that airlines should be made a party to the case, so that the real picture could emerge.
The bench observed that the civil aviation ministry should have written the letters as who ‘would take a CEO seriously’.
“Let it (the airport issue) be given a decent burial. You (govt) have made enough mockery of system and the HC. I have grown old. I can’t take this much stress. You will be happy in your cocoon in Delhi and we will live within our means...,” justice Saron, said asking the government to disband the airport and return the land acquired.