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SC allows Delhi Airport to commercially utilize land for non-aeronautical purposes

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-08-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a ruling of the Delhi high court that allowed Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), a unit of GMR Group, to put airport land to commercial use for non-aeronautical purposes.

The court was hearing the Centre’s appeal against the order permitting such use of airport land by DIAL.

The Centre told the court that since DIAL had bid for the airport land before the scope of the non-aeronautical use was widened, it could not get the benefits of subsequent changes in the law.

National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016 (NCAP), which came into effect on 15 June last year, barred airport operators such as DIAL, which run under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, from commercially utilising their land for non-aeronautical services. The restriction was not applicable to future or upcoming PPP airports which would be run by the AAI.

On 10 April, 2016, a division bench of the Delhi high court headed by then chief justice G. Rohini ruled on a challenge brought by DIAL against the exclusion of existing PPPs.

She directed AAI to take necessary steps to extend the benefit of liberalized use of airport land under provisions of the 2016 aviation policy to DIAL.

The 41-page order held exclusion of PPP airports such as DIAL from availing of benefits under the policy to be ‘violative of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution’.

DIAL had contended that it had written to the ministry in October 2016 against the exclusion of existing PPPs, but the government had rejected its representation on the grounds that post-bid benefits could not be extended to existing PPP airports that had executed agreements with AAI.

DIAL said that under its agreement with the government, it was entitled to use 5% of the total land for non-aeronautical services.

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