Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Supreme Court nod for pilot’s insolvency proceedings against Air India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to consider afresh a plea by a serving Air India (AI) pilot who has sought to initiate insolvency proceedings against the airline for failing to pay his past dues.

A New Delhi bench of the NCLT, the adjudicating authority for insolvency resolution, had adjourned hearings in the matter sine die in February, after AI submitted to the tribunal that a similar matter was pending before the Supreme Court.
“It is open for Air India to take this up as a defence in the application that is filed by the petitioner before the NCLT. The NCLT order [adjourning proceedings sine die], therefore, is set aside and the NCLT will now go into the Section 9 application filed by the petitioner afresh, after considering objections by the respondent [AI],” a two-judge Supreme Court Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and V Ramasubramanian said in its order last month.
The pending dispute referred to by AI concerns a challenge to a judgment of the Bombay High Court, which had ruled that the airline could not have altered the terms of service of employees who had joined when the erstwhile domestic carrier Indian Airlines was merged with it in 2007.
The Supreme Court said that it was aware of the pending dispute, but the same could not come in the way of the NCLT hearing the insolvency petition filed by the pilot under Section 9 of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
Under Section 9, salaried employees can, acting as operational creditors, initiate insolvency proceedings against a corporate debtor.
The pilot had approached the NCLT towards the end of last year. After the tribunal’s order, he approached the top court in August this year.
A separate but similar plea by another pilot who is now retired, also seeking the initiation of insolvency proceedings against AI for failing to pay his dues, has been pending before the NCLT since the beginning of 2018.
The dues claimed by the serving and former pilots amount to nearly Rs 1 crore and Rs 70 lakh respectively, a person aware of the developments said. These dues are for the period between July 2012 and January 2016.
19/11/19 Aashish Aryan/Indian Express
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