Saturday, December 18, 2021

Delhi HC upholds earlier order to reinstate Air India pilots

New Delhi: Coming to the aid of all Air India pilots whose services were terminated, including the contractual ones, the Delhi high court on Friday upheld its earlier decision to reinstate them.

A bench of justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh also modified the earlier single judge decision by granting further relief to those pilots who, despite withdrawing their resignation, had left Air India as it refused to take them back.

“Aforesaid employees would not be reinstated but would be entitled to back wages for the period spanning between the date when their resignations were accepted and the date when they found alternate employment,” the bench noted.

The bench further observed that “State and its instrumentalities are obliged to act as a model employer, and, therefore, cannot be seen to deprive the pilots of the right to serve Air India, at a point in time when finding jobs in the private sector is a difficult proposition. The state and its instrumentalities are expected to look at myriad aspects and not just profits. Welfare of employees in times when jobs are difficult to come by should form a crucial ingredient of its decision making process.”

The single judge had earlier directed reinstatement of several pilots and also ordered that back wages would have to be paid to the reinstated pilots. The court had also said that extension of contract, in the future, of the contractual pilots would be at the discretion of Air India in view of their satisfactory performance.

In its appeal, Air India had argued that once a pilot tenders resignation, the legal relationship of an employer-employee comes to an end with it and the resignation cannot be withdrawn subsequently. However the division bench didn’t agree with this stand and underlined that resignations tendered by the pilots could be considered effective only when Air India accepted them and issued them NOC, allowing them to exit.

18/12/21 Abhinav Garg/Times of India

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