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‘Govt, MHA can withdraw security clearance of any firm’

The Delhi High Court, while staying the Directorate General of Civil Aviation [DGCA] notification suspending Global Vectra’s license till further order, has said the central government and the Ministry of Home Affairs [MHA] have powers to withdraw the security clearance to any firm or individual in national interest.

Global Vectra had challenged the withdrawal of security clearance by the MHA in the court. It had contended in its plea that the government had scrapped its security clearance and aviation license without issuing it any notice and hearing it.

Justice Vipin Sanghi held that the the security clearance of an aviation firm as well as its officers was required as the potential of an aircraft to carry out ‘undesirable and dangerous activities’ is higher than other mode of transport.

‘The operation of any aircraft over the Indian territory is bound to involve internal security aspects. An aircraft has the potential to be used for anti-national activities such as the carrying out of unauthorised surveillance, espionage, attacks, smuggling of contraband, and for transportation of persons, including fugitives.

‘There may be several other undesirable purposes to which an aircraft could be put. The potential of an aircraft to carry out such undesirable and dangerous activities by its very nature, is higher than the other common mode of common transport,’ the court said.

The court after going through the Home Ministry’s files pertaining to Global Vectra said, ‘It would tantamount to a surrender of the sovereign power of the State, and failure of performance of one of its most fundamental obligations, if the State were not to act in any of the above situations, or any other appropriate situations, to withdraw the security clearance of the company/body corporate.’

‘Therefore, I reject the petitioners’ submission that no security clearance was required to be obtained by, or granted to the company - Global Vectra, and the security clearance of Global Vectra could not have been withdrawn under any circumstance,’ said the court.

The aviation firm, belonging to the Ravi Rishi’s Vectra group, which is the largest shareholder in Tatra Holdings owning the Czech truck manufacturer Tatra, is facing CBI probe for allegedly supplying trucks at exorbitant price to the Indian Army. The Ministry of Home Affairs on 7 May had withdrawn Vectra’s security clearance, leading the DGCA to scrap the firm’s permit to operate.

Vectra had submitted that the government has failed to establish the basis on which the decision was taken in the name of security. The counsel had said that the CBI probe against Ravi Rishi, who is one of the directors of the company and has three percent stake in it, cannot be the basis for blacklisting a company which has been supplying the choppers for various purposes in the country since 1998.
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