Air India moves SC against Pilots Guild

New Delhi: Air India today moved a petition in the Supreme Court seeking initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against the office bearers of the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) for allegedly obstructing implementation of its order on training of pilots for the Dreamliner aircraft. An application in this regard alleged that the ongoing protest action by IPG, which has disrupted international flight operations of airline, amounts to contempt of the apex court orders.

Air India`s counsel Lalit Bhasin said the action of the IPG was in violation of the April 23 and May 2 order of the apex court by which it was made clear that the training programme will be imparted in equal ratio to the pilots of pre-merger Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines. The IPG, whose members have been reporting sick, are protesting the national carrier`s move to send pilots from both Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines in equal numbers to get trained for flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the first of which is likely to be inducted later this month.

The training programme is going on from May 8 in Singapore. Bhasin said the "armtwisting" act by the IPG was coming in the way of administration of justice. The matter has reached the Supreme Court after Air India had appealed against March 13 order of the Bombay High Court which had restrained the national carrier from sending any pilot from Indian Airlines for training to fly Boeing 787.

Later, on April 23, the High Court order was stayed by the apex court which had made it clear that "that the training imparted to the members of the IPG shall remain subject to the final outcome of the writ petition and shall not prejudice the rights and contentions of the writ petitioners before the High Court in any manner". The apex court had asked the High Court to expeditiously deal with the matter and dispose it within six months.

However, IPG had filed an application in the apex court. During the hearing of the application, Air India had submitted that "an equal number of pilots, as have been deputed from the erstwhile Air India, shall be deputed for training from out of the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots also with effect from May 8, 2012 on a Boeing facility".

The court had noted that "in the light of the statement the apprehension expressed by the petitioner/applicant (IPG) that only Air India pilots are being or may be deputed for such training is misplaced". The May 2 order also recorded the statement of IPG`s counsel that the statement Air India`s counsel was "indeed sufficient to allay the apprehension expressed in the application".