Contempt notices issued to nine sacked AI pilots

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued contempt notices to nine sacked office bearers of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) for disobeying its order to call-off the on-going strike in Air India which entered the seventh day.

"Issue notice to the nine office bearers of the ICPA and renotify the matter on May 25," a division bench headed by Justice B D Ahmed said.

The bench, which heard the matter thrice during the day, said, "These pilots are not understanding the gravity of being prosecuted for the contempt of court".

The bench said, "All the nine person shall remain present in the court on the next date of hearing" and gave them two weeks time to respond to the contempt notices.

The ICPA members, who are sought to be prosecuted, are its President A S Bhinder, Vice President Ramesh Gangadharan, General Secretary Rishabh Kapur, Assistant General Secretary Rajesh Kuyeskar, Treasurer Ritesh Mathankar and four executive committee members Nitin Mahangade, Anup, Shakil and Amitesh.

Earlier in the day, the bench had rapped the airline management and the pilots` association for their rigid attitude and appointed a counsel to assist it in resolving the stand off.

Initiating the arguments, senior advocate K T S Tulsi, who represented the ICPA, said, "We have filed an appeal against the order of the single-judge initiating contempt proceedings against us.

"I urge this court to hear my appeal with the criminal contempt proceedings tomorrow," Tulsi said.

The bench asked Tulsi if the striking pilots were ready to relent from their stand on continuing the strike.

The court, which appointed Siddharth Luthra as the amicus curiae, said, "The time is running against you (ICPA).

You consult your client and report back to us at 2.15 p.m today itself."

Tulsi, however, sought to assure the court that the strike can be called off within two hours provided the Air India management takes a sympathetic and conciliatory approach towards resolving the stalemate.