'Air India not govt controlled; no longer amenable to writ jurisdiction'

The petition cannot lie under Article 226 of the Constitution as Air India was no longer a public body
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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has refused to entertain a plea against Air India by the Indian Airlines Officers Association seeking pay and allowance arrears, saying the airline has ceased to be a government-controlled company and is no longer amenable to its writ jurisdiction.

Justice Jyoti Singh observed that the petition was undoubtedly maintainable when it was filed in 2016 on account of Air India then being a public body but with the change of circumstance with respect to its ownership, the court is precluded from granting the relief sought in the present proceedings.

"It is an admitted position that during the pendency of the present writ petition, on 27.01.2022, 100 per cent shareholding of Air India has been acquired by M/s. Talace Pvt. Ltd. and Air India having ceased to be a Government controlled company, is no longer amenable to the writ jurisdiction of this Court….The writ petition cannot be entertained," said the court in its recent order.

The court, while disposing of the petition, nonetheless clarified that the petitioner is free to take recourse to remedies available to them in law before an appropriate forum and Air India shall be responsible for clearing the dues if the claim succeeds.

The petitioner, in their plea, sought arrears of pay and allowances for the period of January 1, 1997 to July 31, 2006.

Counsel for Air India said the airline has been privatised and the entire shareholding of the Government of India has been transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd and, therefore, the petition cannot lie under Article 226 of the Constitution as Air India was no longer a public body.

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