The Supreme Court has not stayed the suo motu order of the Meghalaya High Court requiring the concerned authorities and the airliners to take a final decision on the dates on which the flights will start operating from the Umroi airport.
The Apex Court has only stayed the portion of the high court order which required personal appearance of Aviation officials and officers of Airline carriers, in case of non-compliance with its order.
The high court had, on December 7, directed the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation to convene a meeting of all the responsible officers and take a decision on the date from which the airport will start functioning.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice SR Sen had further made it clear that in case of failure in taking a decision, the Secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation, Chairman, Airports Authority of India and CEOs/CMDs of the respective airliners will have to remain personally present in court.
In its order, the high court had noted with “amusement” the submissions of the airliners, which it said were in absolutely different directions. It had then clarified that the Ministry of Civil Aviation, which in effect is the regulating authority, has the power to take action against the erring airliners.
It had further pointed out that time is of essence in the case as September 30 was the time limit for making the airport fully functional.
“But now there is no scope for extending time any further,” it had asserted.
The court had then directed all responsible authorities to take a decision on the same within seven days, ordering, “In the given scenario, we are constrained to direct the Director General of Civil Aviation as well as the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Chairman, AAI to hold a meeting. The Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation shall convene a meeting of all the said responsible officers and also the responsible officers of airliners and to take a final decision as to from which date flight will start operating from Umroi airport. The exercise shall be undertaken and completed positively without any fail within a period of seven days from today.”
This order was challenged before the Supreme Court by airline carriers, Indigo and Spicejet. The matter came up for hearing on December 13, when the Apex Court issued notice in the appeals and stayed the portion of the high court order which required personal appearance of the officials.
“Issue notice in all the three Special Leave Petitions.
Until further orders, order of personal appearance before the High Court shall remain stayed,” it ordered.
This was misreported by the media as a stay on the order of the high court in totality instead.
The matter then came up for hearing on December 14, when the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) informed the court that a meeting was held on December 13. It was, however, submitted that the meeting remained inconclusive and that the airlines have sought six months’ time to enable them to take a decision on the issue.
The court thereafter directed the ASG to file a detailed status report with suggestions on future course of action. The airliners were also directed to file their affidavits. The matter will now be heard after the vacation.
Note: LiveLaw had earlier reported that the Supreme Court had stayed the Meghalaya High Court Judgment. The error is deeply regretted.
Read the Order Here