It would consider with sympathy sacked pilots' plea: AI to HC

The Air India management today told the Delhi High Court that it has revoked the sacking of nine of the 101 pilots and would sympathetically consider the other cases, which would be decided within four to six weeks.

Justice Reva Khetrapal, taking note of the changed stand of the national carrier, allowed the airlines to withdraw its civil suit against the pilots, seeking to restrain them from resorting to strike.

The AI management had filed applications seeking contempt proceedings against the pilots after their strike was held to be prima facie illegal.

"The suit is allowed to be dismissed as withdrawn. All the interim applications are dismissed and interim orders stand vacated. Any observations, made during the hearing or in any of the orders, shall not be construed as observation on merits," Justice Khetrapal said while considering the submissions made by Air India counsel Lalit Bhasin.

"Lalit Bhasin informs this court that a committee has been constituted to examine and consider the representations of 97 pilots, whose services have been terminated.

Pursuant to this the pilots have filed their representation with the committee which has been considered in its sittings on July 19 and 21 in Delhi and Mumbai respectively," the court noted in its order.

It also considered the Air India's submissions that the ousted pilots have been given personal hearing and the sacking orders against nine of them have already been withdrawn.

Bhasin, who had earlier withdrawn the proposal on the reinstatement issue after the pilots insisted on inclusion of a retired judge in the committee, today assured the court the AI committee would sympathetically consider and decide the pilots' representation within four to six weeks and this paved the way for withdrawal of the civil suit.

Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for the pilots, also did not oppose Air India's plea to withdraw its case against the pilots.

On July 18, the Air India management had toughened its stand and dropped its proposal to sympathetically consider the issue after the pilots had put fresh conditions.

The counsel for AI had strongly objected to the proposed amendments made by the pilots that either an independent panel, having a retired Supreme Court or the high court judge, be constituted or the national carrier be not allowed to withdraw the case till the issue of sacking is resolved.

The high court, however, had asked the AI to release some money to the pilots for the period prior to the time they went on strike and had adjourned the hearing to July 23 when the pilots and the national carrier were directed to apprise the court about their stand in the pending case.

The pilots had called off their 58-day-long strike and reported back to duty on July 3

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