Jet pilots move apex court against airline, SBI, DGCA, others

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on May 07, 2019 Published on May 07, 2019

A file photo of pilots at the Jet Airways office in Mumbai   -  PAUL NORONHA

Seek direction to lender to release ₹1,500-crore interim funding

An association representing Jet Airways pilots has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court to direct State Bank of India to release interim funding of ₹1,500 crore in a bid to pay salaries and keep the company afloat until a new investor takes over.

The appeal, filed by the National Aviator’s Guild (NAG), has raised questions on why the bank did not go through with the funding as notified by the company to the stock exchanges on March 25.

It has also raised questions on other actions including de-registration of aircraft and allotment of Jet’s slots to other airlines. These actions, ahead of the bidding process to identify a new investor, may have destroyed the value of the company, the NAG alleged.

The plea has been filed under Articles 21 and 32 of the Constitution against Jet Airways, SBI, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Airports Authority of India (AAI), and the Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru international airports.

However, legal experts said the pilots may not have a strong case. “I think the writ will be dismissed tomorrow because Jet Airways is a private party and if the Supreme Court is to hear a writ petition filed against lenders and government authorities on this ground, they will have to accept it for all other entities as well,” said Ravi Kini, Managing Attorney, MV Kini Law Firm.

“There is no legal obligation for SBI to fund (Jet) as a banker. The court cannot state it on the fundamental rights of the people to get funds because it is a private airline. If it was a government entity, there was still a possibility they could have done it,” said Ravi Singhania, Managing Partner, Singhania and Partners.

“SBI, too, has a lot of stakeholders to answer to. What the court can do is ask the two parties to come to a settlement. However, it cannot pass an order on the same,” Singhania added.

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Published on May 07, 2019
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