BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Friday moved the Delhi High Court seeking an order restraining the Centre from granting any approval to AirAsia for its operations in India.
Appearing before a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Vibhu Bakhru, he mentioned that his application for stay should be listed next week as his PIL seeking quashing of permission given to AirAsia for its operations is to come up for hearing on October 30.
Allowing his plea, the bench said, "If you have filed the application then it will automatically be listed on coming Wednesday which is a PIL day."
Swamy in his plea said, "Pass an order of ex-parte ad interim stay restraining respondents...(Centre) from taking any action or decision or granting any further or other approvals/permission/NOC/permits etc contrary to the applicable FDI policy read with DGCA guidelines... or from granting any approval for foreign investment by a foreign airlines in a greenfield airline project."
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana had issued notices to the Centre, Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and Commerce and Civil Aviation ministries on September 18 and sought their responses by October 30.
It asked the government to "file an affidavit explaining the government's policy on the issue". In April, the FIPB gave clearance to the $30 million deal between Malaysia-based AirAsia and Tata Sons.
Swamy's PIL opposes the clearance to the deal on the ground that according to government policy, foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 49 per cent is allowed in existing airlines which are already in operation and not to new or proposed joint ventures. The policy was brought to boost the aviation industry which was undergoing financial crisis, the petition said.
Swamy in his PIL alleged that it is "clearly contrary to the Foreign Direct Investment policy" and also against "the guidelines notified by the nodal ministry, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, which does not permit foreign investment by a foreign airline, in such a greenfield airline".
He said the FDI policy requires that "effective control" of the joint venture will be vested with Indian nationals.
He also alleged that the joint venture, in which Tata Sons Ltd has 30 per cent stake, Arun Bhatia-led Telestra Tradeplace Pvt Ltd 21 per cent and AirAsia the majority share holder with 49 per cent stake, is to start the operations in India contrary to the FDI policy.
AirAsia Berhad, a public listed Malaysian company which operates AirAsia through its wholly-owned investment vehicle Air Asia Investment Ltd had in February entered into an agreement with Tata Sons Ltd and Telestra Tradeplace Pvt Ltd to set up a joint venture company for passenger airline business in India.