Sunday, October 09, 2022

'No Illegality': Kerala High Court Dismisses Air India Express Pilots' Plea Seeking Re-Engagement After Retirement

The Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed the petitions of three retired pilots who had approached the court seeking re-engagement on a contract basis with the Air India Express Ltd. In 2020, the contract appointments of the petitioners had been terminated.

Justice Anu Sivaraman at the outset observed that the Air India subsidiary is no longer a public sector undertaking after privatisation and therefore the issuance of public law remedy in the nature of a writ against it cannot be sought now.

The court added that the only question which remains would be as to the legality of the order of the termination passed by Air India Express Ltd whenit was a PSU. 

Observing that since the petitioners were contract employees who had been re-engaged after their retirement, the court said the termination of their appointment would depend on the terms and conditions of the contract.

"If that be so, the termination of a contract simplicitor by following the conditions provided in the contract would not, according to me, give rise to a cause of action to the petitioners to challenge the order of termination on the ground that it is arbitrary or illegal," said Justice Sivaraman.

The bench noted that the apex court in several decisions has held that termination of a contractual appointment would not be vitiated if the terms of the contract permitted such prior termination.

The writ petitions were filed in the Court challenging the notices issued to the petitioners intimating the discontinuance of their contractual engagements as Trainee Captain/Captain (Flying Officer) under Air India Express Ltd.

The petitioners, represented by Advocates Santhosh Mathew, Arun Thomas, Karthika Maria, Anil Sebastien Pulickel, Abi Benny Areeckal, Leah Rachel Ninan, Mathew Nevin Thomas, and Karthik Rajagopal, argued that they were highly experienced pilots and had been appointed on contract basis in the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively, with the contracts being renewed time and again.

The court was told the petitioners were served with termination notices in August 2020 citing the prevailing civil aviation scenario and one months' salary was paid to them in lieu of one month's notice.

It was submitted by the counsels that although the requests by the petitioners for retention had been rejected, there had been an undertaking held out to them that the airline would hire them back before opening the positions held by them to other applicants, as soon as there are reasonable signs of demand revival. However, the pleas said, in total contravention to the same, employment notices were issued, and the age limit of 55 years as on Januuary 1, 2022 was fixed, thus barring the petitioners, who are in their 60s, from applying for the post.

08/10/22 Navya Benny/Live

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment