Airport can't be given to Indian firm: Nepal SC

Nepal's Supreme Court has issued an interim order against its government's reported decision to hand over the management and up-gradation contract of the country's only international airport to an Indian company.

A three-judge bench said on Sunday that the matter concerned national sovereignty, though one of the judges dissented and said that there was no need for an interim order, as the handover of the Tribhuvan International Airport to India's Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited was not the final decision, but just a recommendation.

The row started early this month when media reports claimed that the Nepal government had reached an MoU with the Indian company to hand over management and up-gradation of the airport without going through proper formal tendering process. However, the Nepal Investment Board refuted the reports and said that the board had not reached any agreement with the Indian company.

The three-judge bench, comprising the justices Sushila Karki, Tarka Raj Bhatta and Ram Kumar Prasad Sah, issued the interim order through a majority verdict after studying the detailed project report of the project. Justice Sah, in his differing note, wrote that there was no need for an interim order as the National Investment Board, which has given a recommendation, was not the final authority in making this decision, and it was the government which needs to sign an MoU on the project with the Indian company.

Terming the reported decision to hand over the airport management to the Indian firm as a breach of law and against national interest, petitioners – the advocates Sriprasad Pandit, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Bhupal Basnet – had sought the intervention of the apex court.
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