SNV Aviation Private Limited & Anr. V. Directorate General of Civil Aviation & Anr.
Date of Order:
26th September, 2023
Hon'ble Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora
Petitioner: SNV Aviation Private Limited & Anr.
Respondent: Directorate General of Civil Aviation & Anr.
The Court has determined that, in order to give a directive to Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 regarding the representation of Petitioners against, the jurisdiction of Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 must first be resolved.
- Under the name "Akasa Air," the petitioner runs an airline This petition claims that many pilots employed by the petitioners have resigned from their jobs without giving the required minimum notice period (referred to as "defaulting pilots"), in violation of their respective employment contracts with the petitioners and as required by CAR, 2017. The number of such defaulting pilots who have resigned in the last few months is forty-three (43).
- The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the first respondent, while the Union of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation, is the second respondent. The Petitioners contend that Respondent No. 1 is in charge of regulating activities pertaining to topics stated in the Aircraft Act of 1934 (the "Act of 1934") or Rules established thereunder, including those pertaining to pilots and Air Transport Undertakings like the Petitioner No. 1 in this case.
Whether the respondents have the jurisdiction to take action against the defaulting pilot for failing to serve the minimum contractual notice period?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The experienced senior counsel for the petitioners claims that because so many of their pilots have resigned in the last month without giving the required minimum notice period, the petitioners are compelled to file the current petition. This has had a negative impact on the petitioner airline's operations.
- According to him, the Petitioner Airline was forced to cancel 600 scheduled flights in the month of August 2023 owing to the aforementioned cause, and as the resignation trend is still ongoing, the Petitioner fears that at least 600 flights will be cancelled in this month, or September 2023.
- He claims that clause 11.4.1 of the example contract submitted with the petition supports the idea that the employment contract between Petitioner No. 1 and the pilots mandates a six-month contractual notice period.
- He claims that in this regard, the petitioner is requesting that Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 be given instructions to go through the petitioner's arguments and, after requesting a response from the defaulting pilots, take the required legal action against the defaulting pilots.
- He claims that Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 in CAR, 2017 have properly acknowledged that a pilot is required to serve the minimum contractual notice period, and that in the event that they do not, it will have a detrimental effect on the public interest.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The experienced attorney for the respondents says Respondent No. 1 issued CAR as an executive directive in accordance with Rule 133A of the Rules of 1937. She claims that it was released in the public interest and that the terms set forth within are essentially rules that the stakeholders must abide by. However, she asserts that the employment contract that the pilot and the airline signed supersedes the CAR.
- According to her, under the current law, the Respondent No. 1 has the authority to impose a fee in cases where a pilot violates the law, and to impose a punishment in cases where the airline violates the law. However, she claims that Respondent No. 1 does not rule on any alleged violation of employment contracts of this sort.
- She claims that Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 are adamantly opposed to the Petitioners' request for any remedy. The Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 unequivocally deny having the authority or jurisdiction to decide the claim of breach of the employment agreement (including the breach of the minimum contractual notice period) that was signed by the pilots and the Petitioners, according to her. She claims that the Respondents have no business being involved in this situation at all.
- The Court has determined that, in order to give a directive to Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 regarding the representation of Petitioners against (future transgressions by the defaulting pilots), the jurisdiction of Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 must first be resolved.
- Since a doubt has been raised and it has been denied by the said Respondent Nos. 1 and 2, the Court deems it appropriate to hear the arguments on the issue of the jurisdiction of Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 to take action against the defaulting pilot for failing to serve the minimum contractual notice period or the period prescribed in CAR, 2017 if it results in passenger harassment.
- The direction sought against Respondent No. 1 can wait until the final judgment because the Petitioner is asking for guidance regarding potential future infractions. However, it is made clear that if a pilot violates the minimum contractual notice period outlined in his or her employment agreement while this petition is pending, that action will be taken at the pilot's own risk and will remain subject to the resolution of the current petition.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the regulatory body in the field of Civil Aviation, primarily dealing with safety issues. It is responsible for regulation of air transport services to/from/within India and for enforcement of civil air regulations, air safety, and airworthiness standards.
The main ministry in India for developing national policies and programs for the growth and regulation of civil aviation is the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It develops and puts into action plans for the country's civil aviation industry's orderly expansion. Its duties also include controlling airport infrastructure, managing air traffic, and transporting people and things by air. The ministry is also in charge of the administrative aspects of the Commission of Railway Safety and the administration o