The Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) of Go First has said that the NCLAT has directed lessors to approach the Supreme Court or NCLT. According to senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of the IRP, parallel proceedings cannot go on at the Delhi High Court. A writ court is not empowered to pass order on the resolution process, he added.

On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court heard writ petitions filed by six lessors of GoFirst against the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Senior advocate Harish Salve argued that the lessors’ approach to the High Court was an attempt to disrupt the insolvency process. 

Salve pointed out that the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) had directed the lessors to appeal to the Supreme Court if they wanted to challenge its decision, and the rest of the matter was directed to be taken up before the NCLT.

Salve expressed concerns about the potential consequences of the Delhi High Court’s order, which directed the DGCA to release the aircraft to the lessors. He argued that such an order will undermine the insolvency process and result in a permanent halt to the company’s operations, leading to significant job losses. He emphasised the interconnectedness of the ongoing insolvency proceedings and the proceedings before the Delhi High Court, stating that any order issued by the High Court will directly impact the insolvency process.

Sandeep Sethi, another senior advocate representing the IRP, echoed Salve’s arguments and highlighted the Supreme Court’s consistent stance on minimal interference in insolvency proceedings. The case has been adjourned until May 31, and the DGCA is expected to present its side of the case to the court.

Denial of deregistration

Previously, aircraft lessors had contended that the denial of deregistration by the DGCA was illegitimate, as they had requested deregistration based on the Irrevocable De-registration and Export Request Authorisations (IDERA). The DGCA informed the court that the application by the lessors to repossess their aircraft was not officially rejected, but put on hold due to the ongoing moratorium.

Meanwhile, sources in the know said the DGCA is of the opinion that until the moratorium is lifted by any court, it cannot deregister an aircraft. The person said the aviation watchdog is not taking sides with an airline or lessor. “We are not shutting our eyes to the matter; however, we cannot not follow the rules. As far as the Cape Town Convention is concerned that may not be addressed.”

The aircraft lessors, including Pembroke Aviation, Accipiter Investments Aircraft 2 Ltd, EOS Aviation, and SMBC Aviation, filed a writ with the Delhi High Court, seeking directions to release the leased planes. They requested the court to instruct the DGCA to deregister the aircraft leased to GoFirst.

On May 22, the NCLAT upheld the NCLT’s order admitting GoFirst’s plea for insolvency, and directed the lessors to approach the NCLT with relevant applications to determine the possession of the aircraft.