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HC for early disposal of Reliance plea on airport

The Delhi High Court noted that the modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports was of national importance.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 14:45 IST

The Delhi High Court has adjourned until next week the hearing of a Reliance Airports Developers petition challenging the award of contracts for modernising the Mumbai and Delhi airports.

A bench comprising judges TS Thakur and Sanjiv Khanna on Monday asked the petitioner and the Government to file replies to the petition by Saturday.

"We take up the matter on Monday at 2 pm for final disposal at the admission stage," the bench said, while declining to issue notice in the matter.

Anil Ambani's Reliance Airport Developers had on February 2 filed the suit urging that the Government should withdraw, cancel or set aside the evaluation process that gave to two Hyderabad-based consortiums the contracts to modernise the Delhi and Mumbai airports.

When the matter came up the next day, Chief Justice Markandeya Katju said it would be heard by a bench presided over by judge Thakur on Monday.

Though the matter was listed for hearing by the Chief Justice, he transferred it to judge MK Sharma's court, who said that the other judge with him, OP Dwivedi, does not hear cases argued by Karanjawala and company.

The legal firm represents GVK Industries, which has been awarded the contract to modernise Mumbai airport.

The chief justice then transferred the case to Justice Thakur's court.

Reliance Airport Developers, which had tied up with ASA Mexico to bid for the contract to modernise Delhi airport, had lost out to Hyderabad-based GMR-Fraport (Frankfurt airport) consortium. The contract for the Mumbai airport went to GVK-ACSA (South African airports).

Reliance had then indicated that it would move the court to challenge the last-minute changes in the tender conditions.

In its petition, the company accused the Government and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), whose staff had struck for four days against the privatisation moves, of indulging in favouritism and violating the constitutional rights to freedom of expression, to life and to equality.

The petition alleged that the Government had illegally changed the terms and parameters of evaluation and the award of tenders hours before the final stages without reason or notice.

It urged the court to consider whether the Government could act in this fashion and deprive the company, which was the highest bidder for the Delhi airport with its bid of 45.99 per cent (revenue sharing) as opposed to GMR Industries Ltd that offered only 43.64 per cent.

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 13:40 IST