The Bombay high court asked the Centre to inform whether its draft policy on naming and renaming of airports had been finalised. “If there is no policy or if it is at the draft stage, get it done. You have a new set of ministers now. Let it be the first work of the civil aviation minister,” Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni told additional SG Anil Singh.
The HC was hearing a PIL by advocate Filji Frederick seeking directions to the Centre to frame a policy for naming airports and until then to restrain the ministry of civil aviation from accepting proposals from states on naming airports. He also sought a restraint on the state government “from taking any steps towards making a proposal for naming the upcoming international airport in Navi Mumbai” until the policy is framed.
Frederick’s petition said naming a new airport or renaming an existing one always triggers a controversy. “Groups get into mudslinging and make allegations,” he argued. He said to do away with such controversies, especially after the dispute over naming of Chandigarh airport, the ministry in 2016 had decided to name airports only after the cities in which they were located.
The petition said a draft policy was framed and circulated for inter-ministerial consultation in 2017 and questions were also raised in Parliament. In March 2018, Rajya Sabha was told that draft policy guidelines for naming airports had been formulated. But in July 2019, the Lok Sabha was told it had not been finalised.
To the judges’ query, Frederick replied that the procedure followed today is that a state government proposes a name and, after passing a resolution, sends it to the Centre. “It is not a written policy,” he added. The judges told the ASG to find out the current status of the draft policy. “Over a small occasion of naming (of the airport at Navi Mumbai), we took the state government to task as there was a gathering of 25,000 violating Covid protocol,” said the CJ. The matter will be heard on July 16.
If there is no policy or if it is at the draft stage, get it done. You have a new set of ministers now. Let it be the first work of the civil aviation minister