The Delhi High Court today dismissed two interim pleas seeking a stay on grant of further approvals to operationalise the USD 30 million deal between Tata Sons and Malaysia-based AirAsia, saying the Centre cannot be "precluded" from "amending or clarifying" its policy.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana, however, said, "Needless to state, none of the observations contained herein would affect the final adjudication" and fixed the hearing on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's PIL against the deal on March 3.
"The present petition entails interpretation of the policy by the government which created the policy. It cannot be lost sight of that even if the Government was earlier of the view that FDI is to be permitted in existing airlines only, nothing prevented the Government from subsequently allowing FDI in a new/proposed airline also and which is neither the subject matter of challenge nor can be the subject matter of judicial review.
"The policy was formulated by the Government and the Government cannot be precluded from clarifying or amending its policy which is executive in nature. The matter is strictly within the domain of the internal functioning of the Government.
"The question, how a particular policy is to be interpreted has to be necessarily, at least at this stage, answered in favour of the Government and the petitioner cannot be heard to object," the interim decision said.
Swamy, on being ordered by the apex court, had filed the PIL in the High Court seeking various reliefs including setting aside of all "approvals/permissions" granted to Tata-AirAsia joint ventures.
He had also filed two applications, which were decided today, seeking interim relief of stay on decision taken on April 3, 2013 by the Centre and restraining it from granting any further approval/NOC to the joint venture.
Swamy's PIL opposed clearance to the deal on the ground that according to government policy, foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 49 per cent is allowed in existing airlines which are already in operation and not to new or proposed joint ventures.