Decided on December 22,2017

Dilip Madhusudan Ranadive Appellant


- (1.) The petitioners were carrying on business of ground handling in respect of various international airlines at Mumbai Airport. The third petitioner is a partnership firm of which the first and second petitioners are partners. The first respondent has been constituted under the Airports Authority of India Act 1994 (for short "the said Act of 1994"). The second respondent is a company. The second respondent is now managing the airport at Mumbai. The third respondent is an a department of the Central Government.
(2.) The first respondent was charging licence fee to the petitioners. The reason for filing the writ petition is that the first respondent threatened to terminate the licences granted to the petitioners and entry permits to the airport on the ground of failure of the petitioners to supply information demanded from them and for non payment of licence fee which was claimed with retrospective effect from 1979. The demand was made by the first respondent by a letter dated 6th December 1996 addressed to the third petitioner. By the said letter, the petitioners were called upon to pay the licence fee at the rate of 2% from the year 1979 to January 1985 and at the rate of 10% from February 1985 till March 1991. For the period commencing from 1st April 1991, the licence fee was demanded at the rate of 11%. The percentage specified was of gross turnover every year. According to the case of the petitioners, the demand for payment of licence fee was without authority of law as there is no power to impose licence fee save and except upon instructions of the Central Government as is clear from Section 22(ii) of the said Act of 1994. The contention in the petitioners was that the licence fee cannot be imposed by the Regulations of the first respondent as it is only the Central Government which has power to impose licence fee. It is contended that the rates of licence fee were never fixed by the Board resolutions of the first respondent and were never published in an official gazette.
(3.) The petitioners had filed Writ Petition No.2277 of 1984 against the first respondent which was disposed of along with other connected petitions. The said writ petition was inter alia filed for challenging withdrawal of the facility of entry pass granted to the employees of the petitioners. In a group of petitions before this Court, there was a challenge to the International Airports Authority of India (General Management, Entry for ground handling of Air Transport Services) Regulations, 1984 (for short "the said Regulations of 1984") brought into force by a notification dated 5th June 1984 of the first respondent and, in particular to Regulation 5(c). A portion of the Regulation 5(c) was struck down by the Division Bench of this Court by judgment and order dated 13th April 1984. While allowing the petition filed by the petitioners, it was held that the petitioners were entitled to carry on business of ground handling services at Mumbai Airport so long as the said Regulations of 1984 were in force and subject to compliance with the other provisions of law. This Court directed the first respondent herein to issue entry passes to the employees of the third petitioner herein according to law and permit them to carry on ground handling services at Mumbai Airport in respect of all those airlines which have appointed it as agent so long as the Regulations of 1984 were in operation. It is contended in the present petition that at the time of hearing of the said writ petition, no contention was raised by the first respondent that the petitioners were liable to pay licence fee or that the first respondent was entitled to withhold entry permits, if licence fee was not paid. Reliance is placed on the said judgment in the writ petition filed by the petitioners. The directives were issued by the first respondent's Chief of Commercial Services on 3rd October 1984. Those directives gave cause of action for filing the said earlier petition being Writ Petition No.2277 of 1984.;

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