SC refuses Kingfisher plea to stay CCI probe

A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia asked the carrier to face the Competition Commission of India (CCI) probe into alleged cartelisation in the aviation industry through its two-year-old strategic alliance with market leader Jet Airways.

Following the apex court order, Kingfisher sought to withdraw its petition. The bench, that also had Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar as members, allowed the carrier to do so.

"We are saying you a very simple thing... reply the showcause notices issued by the DG, Investigations (of CCI). Face it and wherever you feel wrong, tell them," the court said.

The court also disagreed with the submissions of senior advocate and former attorney general Ashok V Desai, appearing for Kingfisher, that CCI was asking for much more information t han required.

"They are asking for accounts of last several years, data on costing of flight... they are just behaving like an auditor general sitting in the office," Desai said.

On this, the bench said, "DG, Investigations, is entitled to ask you (Kingfisher) all these. Why don't you complete your paper work?"

In October, 2008, Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways had announced that they would form an alliance through which they would cooperate on matters relating to fuel management, ground handling and cross-selling of flight tickets to select destinations.

The two carriers together command around 45 per cent of domestic passenger traffic.
The CCI had started its probe in August after finding prima facie evidence on cartelisation. The inquiry was suspended for a while after Kingfisher moved the Bombay High Court.

However, the probe was taken up again after the High Court finally dismissed the petition.

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