HC trashes airport services providers' plea against new norms
Mumbai: Observing that services provided at airports must match global standards, the Bombay High Court has refused to set aside three new conditions imposed while issuing tenders for ground handling services at the Mumbai international airport.
"Ground handling services to passengers should not fall below international standards. These services have to match with international standards. Today one cannot deprive people of good services," the HC remarked while passing the order earlier last week.
A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre was hearing a petition filed by the Airport Services Providers Association (ASPA) challenging three new eligibility criteria for filing tenders for ground handling concession at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA).
The Civil Aviation Ministry, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), and the MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Limited) were respondents in the matter.
The petitioner represents Indian private ground service providers who cater to domestic and international airlines besides private airport operators at various airports in the country.
"As per the new criteria, the bidder should have handled, as a ground handler, at least ten million passengers in the aggregate at international airports, which may be within or outside India. Besides, the bidder company should have a turnover of Rs 75 crore from ground handling business and the bidder should furnish a performance guarantee of Rs 100 crore," the petitioner said
The ASPA claimed that these new conditions were unreasonable, unjust and violative of their fundamental rights. "These conditions have no nexus with the object sought to be achieved," it said.
Hearing arguments from all sides, the HC, however, said it did not see anything unreasonable, unfair or unjust in the new conditions.
"Given the passenger traffic at the international airport in Mumbai where even some domestic airlines have their operations, we do not think that these conditions are unreasonable or having no nexus with the object sought to be achieved," the bench said.
It said the objective of the conditions was to provide expeditious ground handling services at the airport.
"Apart from giving the passengers assistance, cleanliness and hygiene, there are several duties which are to be performed by these agencies.
"They should deploy adequate and sufficient manpower so that the services do not suffer. There could be a breakdown in the event the passenger traffic exceeds the limit, particularly during vacations and holidays. In these circumstances and to obtain most efficient services that such conditions are imposed," the bench said and dismissed the petition.