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HC allows Bhadra Intl to commence operation in Chennai

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CHENNAI: Madras High Court today allowed private sector firm Bhadra International to commence its operation in ground handling services in Chennai and Kolkata airports.

Dismissing a PIL, a Division Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and Aruna Jagadeesan noted that the Federation of Indian Airlines and other airline carriers had filed a similar petition in Delhi High Court and the same was dismissed.

A PIL filed by Oveyam Ranjan and Indian Airports Ground Handling Agents Association, Bangalore, sought to quash an Airports Authority of India (AAI) order of September 9, 2009, awarding license to provide ground handling services in Chennai and Kolkata airports.

They also sought to direct the CBI to hold an inquiry into the issuance of tender for providing comprehensive ground handling services to various domestic and international airlines in both airports and file a report within a timeframe.

The tender was awarded in favour of Bhadra International (India) Limited.

The petitioners contended that eligibility conditions of the tender were altered to suit Bhadra International, a joint venture consortium partnering along with Novia International Consulting APS of Denmark. AAI, authorities of Chennai and Kolkata airports denied the allegations.

Dismissing their petitions, the bench said the present petitioners have filed the petition as a PIL and stated that no similar petitions are filed in any other High Courts at the same time.

The bench said that the writ petitions have been filed, since they "found the weakness in the case before the Delhi High Court, the interested persons have prompted a third party/ the petitioners to file the present writ petition as a PIL that too in the eleventh hour."

These petitions were filed "undoubtedly with an ill intention of preventing Bhadra International to commence its operation," they said.

The petitioner, who posed as the president of a labour union, has not raised any issue with regard to any labour problem so far and this writ petition has been filed by her only at the behest of some interested persons, the bench said.

"The bona fides of the petitioners were at stake and given the materials available on record, we have no doubt or hesitation to hold that the petitioners have resorted to this prompted and personal interest litigation at the behest of the persons who approached the Delhi High Court and trying to create obstacles for the successful bidder to commence its operation," it said.

"This, in our view, is nothing but a proxy litigation indulging in by the petitioners. The CBI has conducted an inquiry into the whole episode earlier and filed its report giving clean chit to the issue in hand," it said.

Refusing the accept the contentions of the petitions that only with an ulterior motive, Chennai and Kolkata airports were clubbed together by officials, the bench said, "since the said decision is not only the policy decision of the government, but the same has not caused any financial loss to the AAI or the government of India."

"In a commercial contract matter like the one in hand, if a free hand is not given to the government, it would result in the cost to the exchequer," the bench said.


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