AI impasse: Pilot recruitment proposal withdrawn from HC

New Delhi:The impasse over reinstatement of101 sacked pilots of Air India continued as the airlines todaywithdrew from Delhi High Court its proposal after IndianPilots Guild sought amendments including induction of a

retired judge in a management committee formed to deal withit.

"I am also withdrawing the proposal and let the (civil)suit continue," Lalit Bhasin said responding to the optionsprovided to the national carrier by the court that either"have an independent committee or the suit (of AI) will be

kept pending till the termination issue is resolved by itsinternal committee."

Air India has withdrawn its recruitment proposal from HC.

Rejecting the pilots' proposal, which was concurred to byJustice Reva Khetrapal, the lawyer for AI said "we havealready constituted a high-powered committee consisting of twoBoard-level Directors and one Executive Director to look intothe cases based on appeals received from the said former

pilots. No one from outside would be allowed as it is ourinternal matter."

Initially, the pilots sought 30 minutes' time to decideas to whether they agree to AI's offer and later, theyreverted back to the court and sought two amendments in theproposal that either an independent committee should look intothe reinstatement or AI not be allowed to withdraw thecase till the time the management committee decides thematter.

"This is a bargain. We have taken disciplinary actionagainst them. Kindly see an order of a division bench inanother case relating to the training issue... it has beenheld that the pilots who have been on an illegal strike cannotget the benefit of training," Bhasin said.

"They (pilots) are not in a position to bargain. You(Bhasin) have a duty towards to your client but you also owe aduty towards the court and the society at large and you haveto adopt a fair approach," Justice Khetrapal said.

The AI, in its proposal, said "despite being beyond thescope of the pending suit proceedings, the plaintiff (AirIndia) had in deference to the noble sentiments of the courtassured that sympathetic consideration would be given to theclaims of former pilots whose services were terminated in May2012."

It also said the management would review the terminationof those pilots who file appeals with the committee withinseven days and a decision would be taken in six weeksthereafter.

However, senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for thepilots, sought amendments that the term 'appeal' besubstituted by 'representation' which be can be filed withinthree days and will be decided "preferably" within four weeks.

The proposal also said the pilots should "forthwithwithdraw the petiitons filed before the Bombay High Courtchallenging the terminaiton orders and de-recognition".

The pilots replied saying the pleas before the BombayHigh Court would become "inconsequential" if the terminationissue gets resolved.The counsel for AI strongly objected to the proposedamendments that either an independent panel, having retiredSC/HC judges, be constituted or the national carrier be notallowed to withdraw the case till the issue of sacking isresolved.

The court, which asked the AI to release some money tothe pilots for the period prior to the time they went onstrike, then adjourned the hearing to July 23 when the pilotsand the national carrier would apprise the court about their

future stand in the pending case.

Earlier, the AI management had filed an injunction suitfor seeking to declare the strike as illegal and later, filedan application for initiation of contempt proceedings againstthe striking pilots.

The pilots later decided to call off their 58-day-oldstrike and the court then asked the Air India to expeditiouslydecide their reinstatement issue.Earlier, the court had asked the national carrier not tosit over the conciliation process for reinstatement of101 sacked pilots and to desist adopting a "vengeful attitude"towards them.

The pilots' plea that the management was not fulfillingits assurance to consider their reinstatement sympatheticallyin a time-bound manner had led the court to ask Bhasin toconclude the process within four weeks.

AI management has constituted a committee comprising ofsenior executives K M Unni, SBO head-MRO (Airframe), N KJain, Director (personnel) and R Harihar, ED (projects) and ED(IR &I) to negotiate with the pilots about their demand ofreinstatement of the pilots.


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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 10:25:44 IST

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