The Supreme Court upheld GMR Infra’s winning bid for Nagpur Airport

On Monday, May 9, the Supreme Court dismissed appeals against a Bombay high court decision upholding the GMR Group’s concession rights to Nagpur airport.

In 2021, the Bombay high court’s Nagpur bench ordered the multi-modal international cargo hub and airport in Nagpur, or Mihan, to execute the concession agreement with GMR Airports for the upgradation and operation of the city’s Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport.

The judgement of the High Court, said a bench of Justices Vineet Saran and J K Maheshwari, is based on sound reasoning and true analysis of facts and does not warrant interference.

The Supreme Court upheld GMR Infra’s winning bid to modernise and operate Nagpur Airport

Mahan India, a joint venture between Maharashtra Airport Development Company and Airports Authority of India, had the award to GMR Group cancelled in 2020 because the Maharashtra government was unhappy with the revenue share quoted by GMR in the tender.

Mihan then decided to re-tender the job. GMR Infra will expand the capacity and modernise Nagpur Airport after the Supreme Court dismissed all appeals against the HC verdict on Monday, May 9.

GMR will now operate in Nagpur as well as Delhi, Hyderabad, and the soon-to-open Goa and Bhogapuram (Vizag) airports in India.

“In the present case, global tenders were invited and competitive bidding process was followed. The procedure of issuance of LoA (letter of award) is completely a fair procedure…we are of the considered opinion that the objection regarding non-joinder raised by the appellants is bereft of any merit and the High Court has rightly rejected the same.

We are of the considered opinion that the findings recorded by the High Court allowing the Writ Petition are in accordance to the law. Those findings do not suffer from any illegality, warranting interference by this Court.… All these appeals are hereby dismissed.”

Supreme Court order

In October 2018 the group emerged as the highest bidder for the operation and management of Nagpur airport for thirty years offering 5.7% of its gross revenue to MIHAN

Subsequently, it agreed to share over 14% of gross revenue in post-bid negotiations and will hold a 74% stake in the project. Following that, Mihan issued a letter of award to GMR in March 2019.

GMR Infrastructure’s share price gained nearly 3% on May 10 after the Supreme Court upheld a judgment of the Bombay High Court that had quashed a letter dated 19 March 2020 by MIHAN India annulling the bidding process for the Nagpur Airport.

GMR had emerged as the highest bidder in the tender process conducted by MIHAN India for Nagpur Airport in 2019

GMR had emerged as the highest bidder in the tender process conducted by MIHAN India for Nagpur Airport in 2019 and the letter of award was issued to the firm in March of that year.

However, Maharashtra decided to cancel the tender process in March next year and MIHAN India issued a letter annulling the bid process which was set aside by the Bombay High Court in August 2021.

As part of its modernisation plan for Nagpur’s Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, GMR said that it will increase the ultimate capacity of the airport to around 30 million passengers annually, representing a capacity increase of over 1,000% in a phased manner. Currently, the airport handled a total of about 3 million passengers.