New Delhi: The Bombay High Court at Goa on Wednesday (August 16) criticised the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for allowing Amit Shah to hold a party meeting within the premises of the Dabolim International Airport in Goa on July 1. The civilian airport in Goa functions within the naval air base.
The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Aires Rodrigues, The Hindu reported, who had argued that the meeting should not have been held within the high-security area and asked that the organisers of the event be held responsible for allowing it to happen. Rodrigues also files a complaint with the civil aviation ministry, saying, “This is probably the first time a political meeting has taken place within the precincts of an airport anywhere in the country”.
The division bench of Justices G.S. Patel and Nutan Sardessai asked the AAI whether they would allow a regular civilian to hold a public meeting of this kind at the airport, to which the AAI counsel responded by saying that it was a spontaneous affair. To this, the bench said if the meeting was really “spontaneous”, how was a podium, red carpets, sound system, sofas and chairs so easily available and arranged?
According to a report in the Times of India, the court asked AAI why it had accorded preferential treatment in this case.
Chief minister Manohar Parrikar, Union minister Sripad Naik, local party chief Vinay Tendulkar and minister Mauvin Godinho were among those at the airport to welcome Shah and listen to him speak on July 1. A crowd had been bussed in to attend the meeting.
Opposition parties had also criticised the airport authority for allowing the event, with the Congress calling it “a complete abuse of power”. As The Wire reported earlier, the meeting at the airport was not part of the schedule journalists were given before Shah’s two-day trip to the state.
(With IANS inputs)