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AAI seeks dismissal of Reliance petition in SC

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 9: Senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has told the Supreme Court that the credibility of the country in the world was at stake and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was so upset that he had made a statement that he would scrap the entire bidding process for modernisation of Mumbai and Delhi Airports if no decision was taken on the issue at the earliest.

Salve arguing before the bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia submitted that the matter was hanging fire since 2000 when the process of privatisation of the two airports which are having maximum international traffic in the country , was initiated.

Salve was addressing the court on a petition filed by Reliance Airport Developers Pvt Ltd challenging the Delhi high court judgment dated April 21, 2006 dismissing Reliance petition against the government decision to allot the two airports to the two firms namely GMR and PVK.

Salve also contended before the court that $ 2 billion US (approximately Rs 7000 crores) of the foreign capital was lying blocked.

He also told the court under such circumstances some one had to take the call and the AAI took it and there was no favouritism involved as it was none of the business of the petitioner to tell me whom should I call and whom not.

While responding to the allegations of the appellant that the bidding process was not transparent and bench mark was brought down from 80 per cent to 50 per cent just to keep the petitioner out, Salve contended that while awarding contract which was for 60 years on revenue sharing basis, AAI was fully entitled to make the most profitable and suitable choice and none can have any grudge on this count.

Regarding the appointment of the Group of Eminent Technology Experts (GETE) headed by Metro chief E Sreedharan, the senior counsel submitted that ''it was my inhouse mechanism and I was free to consult anybody before taking a final decision on the issue of awarding contract.'' The petition has been filed by the Anil Ambani group.

The hearing shall continue on Thursday also as it remained inconclusive on Tuesday.


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