The court observed that the decision of Delhi International Airport Ltd's (DIAL) to partially shift IndiGo operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 cannot be said to be unreasonable only because it may operate harshly against that airline.
"If we may twist the American idiom, 'my way or the highway' to fit the present context, then IndiGo cannot be heard to say that it is either their way, or the run way. IndiGo are tending to forget that this part relocation from T-1 to T-2 proposed by DIAL, is only a temporary measure and once T-1 is renovated and commences its operations after capacity building, all the airlines can operate from there full throttle and take wings," a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Rekha Palli said while upholding the order of a single judge accepting DIAL's decision.
The bench turned down the suggestion of IndiGo that Terminal 1 be dedicated exclusively to its use and low-cost carrier SpiceJet be asked to move its entire operations to Terminal 2, and said this sprang from IndiGo's own commercial considerations and not made in the larger public good.
It said SpiceJet was as much a business rival of IndiGo as GoAir was a competitor of these two private carriers. IndiGo may be on top of the heap if the volume of passenger traffic is seen, but this would not entitle Indigo to claim monopoly over Terminal 1 to the exclusion of the rest, it added.
"Such a suggestion of 'only us and none else' at T-1, if implemented, would have reduced it into a one horse race, giving a clear edge to IndiGo, over its competitors and DIAL would have been accused of adopting a partisan approach of promoting IndiGo's dominant position instead of offering a level playing field to all the low cost carriers.
"DIAL has not shown bias but has tried to balance the interests all the parties as best as is possible, given the severe constraints of available space," the bench said.
It said that simply because it suits a "corporate goliath" like IndiGo with its voluminous passenger traffic to remain in T-1, will not mean that SpiceJet should be boxed in a corner and completely nudged out from T-1, only because its volume of passenger traffic is one fourth that of IndiGo.
The bench, which dismissed IndiGo's appeal saying it was meritless, however, held that there was merit in the submission of SpiceJet's counsel that any attempt on IndiGo's part to claim exclusive use of T-1 was bound to hurt its (SpiceJet) business prospects and will be anti-competitive.
"We are of the opinion that there is no illegality, arbitrariness or infirmity in the impugned judgement that warrants interference," the bench said.
The decision came on IndiGo's plea challenging its single judge order of December 20 last year, upholding DIAL's October 21, 2017, decision to partially shift the operations of Indigo, GoAir and SpiceJet from T-1 to T-2 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.