HC upholds Delhi, Mumbai airports' extra charges

The Delhi High Court dismissed a public interest petition yesterday challenging the collection of Airport Development Fee (ADF) from departing passengers at Delhi and Mumbai airports.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Manmohan said, "We find no irregularities attached to the imposition of ADF. They (Delhi International Airport Ltd and Mumbai International Airport Ltd, the companies running the two airports) have obtained the centre's permission for that.''

It added that stopping the airports from collecting the fee would frustrate the government policy of involving private participation in the sector.

In February, the Centre had granted permission to the consortia to charge ADF for a limited period, and prescribed the manner in which the funds can be utilised. However, the petitioners, led by of Aviation Redressal Association, a non-governmental organisation, had alleged that the consortia did not have the authority to charge the fee.

The public interest litigation had challenged the fee saying it placed an ''undue burden on travelling public''. It also argued that in return for the payment, the passengers were not being offered any extra facility or value by the concessionaires. It also challenged the government's decision to delegate the power of collecting the fee to private operators.

However, the court said that because both DIAL and MIAL manage the airports under a statutory government lease, they have the same right as state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) to levy such a fee.