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Air India Tells Kerala High Court It Is Not 'State' Under Article 12 Following Disinvestment; Not Amenable To Writ Jurisdiction

Navya Benny
19 Nov 2022 4:22 AM GMT
Karnataka HC: On Privatisation Of Air India Employees Grievance Cannot Be Redressed Under Article 226, It Can Be Only Before Competent Authority

Following the policy decision taken by the Central Government to disinvest 100% of its holdings in Air India and transfer of its share to Tata Group (M/S Talace Pvt. Ltd.) in January this year, the Kerala High Court has been informed that the airline company is no more a 'State' within the purview of of Article 12 of the Constitution.

In an affidavit filed through its Assistant Manager (Personnel), the company said since it has ceased to be a government company, a writ petition is not maintainable against it.

The response comes in a writ petition filed by one Augusthykutty against the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) and Air India, seeking grant of pre-paid taxi permit.

It is submitted that in a similar matter, the Karnataka High Court considered the above aspect and dismissed the writ petition filed against it, directing the petitioner therein to approach the competent authority.

"It is clear that Air India Limited is now a private Company owned by M/s.Talace Pvt. Ltd. The earlier position of Air India Limited which was a fully owned Government of India Company, has changed and it is now a Private Limited company. Therefore, the grievance of the petitioner in the matter of seniority can be redressed only before the competent authority which can deal with the question and not under Article 226 of the Constitution of India," Karnataka High Court had said.

A similar decision was also rendered by the Bombay High Court, which said, "The writ petitions, although maintainable on the dates they were instituted, have ceased to be maintainable by reason of privatization of Air India Ltd. which takes it beyond our jurisdiction to issue a writ or order or direction to it."

It was further averred that the High Courts of Delhi and Madras have dismissed the pleas filed before them against the disinvestment process.

Accordingly, the preliminary objection has been raised, reserving the right of the respondents to file a detailed counter, if need be so.

The matter is pending before the Single Bench of Justice Mohammed Nias C.P.

The petition has been filed through Advocates Raajesh S. Subrahmanian, and V.R. Rajesh.

Air India's affidavit is filed through Advocates Benny P. Thomas, D. Prem Kamath, Tom Thomas, Abel Tom Benny, Kurian Oommen, Jaikrishnan M. Pisharodi, and K.S. Muhammed Shefin.

Case Title: Augusthykutty v. Cochin International Airport Ltd. & Ors.

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