Refusing to disturb the ongoing training of the Air India pilots on advanced Boeing 777 to be used in international flights, the Delhi high Court on Friday stayed further trainings of more pilots till implementation of Justice Dharmadhikari panel recommendations on the issue.
The high court's order came on a plea by erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots for a stay on management's decision to train only erstwhile Air India pilots.
"I hereby make it clear that those pilots of Air India, who are already on training on advanced aircrafts, shall not be disturbed," said Justice Suresh Kait, adding, however, "...
those who have already taken the training on advance aircraft shall be subject to the outcome of the instant petition."
"I am of the considered opinion that till the report submitted by Justice Dharmadhikari Committee is implemented, the imparting of training on advanced aircraft, in this manner, shall remain stayed," the court said.
The court's verdict came on a plea by the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots under the banner of Indian Commercial Pilots Association for an order to stay the ongoing training and also direct Air India to impart training to them as well along with their counterparts in Air India for the rank of Commanders for Boeing 777.
Considering ICPA's contention that if the new training system is implemented, co-pilots of Air India will be directly promoted to the post of commanders of the advanced aircraft, the court observed it will prejudice the rights of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots who will remain as commanders of basic aircraft only, thus affecting their seniority.
". . . if the same system is allowed to go on, it will definitely cause prejudice to the rights and contention of the petitioners, because the petitioners shall remain commander of basic aircraft, while the co-pilots of Air India, even without holding the position of commander of basic aircraft, would be commander on advance aircraft," said Justice Kait.
"This imparity would be a great hurdle in the seniority of the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots with Air India pilots at the time of implementation of report submitted by Justice Dharamadhikari Committee," he added.
ICPA had moved the high court alleging it has not been dealt 'at a par' with Indian Pilots Guild, an association Air India pilots.
Seeking parity in training, the petitioner pilots body, in its plea, alleged the commanders (head pilot) of basic aircraft of former Indian Airlines have not been considered by Air India management for training of commander of advanced aircraft like Boeing 747, 787 and 777.
During the course of hearing, Air India counsel Lalit Bhasin had argued that the management had taken the decision to train only Air India pilots for advance aircrafts because of their different nature of job and different experience profiles.
Air India counsel Bhasin claimed the Air India pilots have immense flying experience on wide-bodied aircrafts like B 777 and have also long-haul experience but the pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines have very little such relevant or equivalent experience.
The court, however, in the order said "though, the domain of the courts are not to step into the domain of the government policies, however, if the policy causes harm to the rights of the citizens, and the decision is arbitrary, then the courts certainly can interfere with.
"Therefore, if at this stage, it is not interfered then the seniority of the petitioners would definitely be disturbed."