SC Rejects Writ Petitions Against Air India Over Salary and Promotion Disputes

SC Rejects Writ Petitions Against Air India Over Salary and Promotion Disputes

On Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected the writ petitions lodged by Air India employees regarding outstanding salary and promotion claims.

A bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta declared that writ petitions are no longer applicable as Air India, having undergone privatization, is no longer under government jurisdiction.

The Court upheld the stance taken by the Bombay High Court in 2022, finding no justification to diverge from its perspective on the matter.

The verdict was delivered in response to an appeal challenging a September 2022 ruling by the Bombay High Court, which similarly determined that writ petitions filed by employees concerning salary and promotion arrears against the airline were not admissible due to the airline's privatization.

In January of the preceding year, the Supreme Court had sought responses from both the Central government and Air India Limited regarding this issue.

The Bombay High Court had determined that while the petitions were admissible when initially filed, the privatization of Air India subsequently placed it outside the court's jurisdiction to issue any writs, orders, or directions to the company.

The petitions brought before the High Court had been submitted by retired employees against both the airline and the Union government. They alleged infringements of Articles 14, 16, and 21 of the Constitution, citing stagnant pay and lack of promotions as the basis for their claims.

The question revolved around whether the petitions should be adjudicated based on the circumstances prevailing at the time of their filing or if subsequent events significantly affecting the court's jurisdiction would render the petitions untenable.

The High Court observed that the matter of the admissibility of writ petitions due to the privatization of a company was no longer a subject open to further debate or consideration.

In disposing of the petitions, the High Court had explicitly stated that the period during which the case was under consideration would not be factored into the calculation of the limitation period if the petitioners chose to pursue an alternative remedy in accordance with the law.

The employees then moved the Supreme Court by way of the present appeal.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for the contesting respondents before the top court.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Singhvi briefed by advocate Sandeep Deshmukh appeared for the appellants.

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