Concluding that both the NCAP 2016 and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Act, 1994, were aimed at promoting the uniform and proper development of the entire aviation sector, the bench said that placing existing PPP airports in a separate class was unjustified and without any reasonable nexus of categorisation.
Rejecting the government's argument that the extension of these benefits to existing PPP airports would amount to a post-bid benefit, the order asked the central government to extend all NCAP 2016 land-use liberalisation benefits to IGI Airport, at par with other existing and future AAI airports.
"Liberalising the end use of the airport land and unlocking the potential of the same is undoubtedly to advance the public interest and for better management of the airport," the court said, while highlighting that the NCAP 2016 itself attempted to promote the expansion of non-aeronautical services.
This view of monetising airport land assets has been shared by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his recent budget announcement and also supported AAI Chairman G P Mohapatra. The high court verdict is expected to have an impact on all other airports currently existing under the PPP model of development.