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“Air India Is Now A Private Company”: Karnataka High Court Refuses To Exercise Writ Jurisdiction U/Art 226 On Employees’ Plea

The Karnataka High Court ruled that because Air India Limited is now a private company owned by M/s.Talace Pvt. Ltd., employees’ grievances can only be addressed before the competent authority that can deal with the issue, not under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. 

In the matter of Ms Padmavathi Subramaniyan v The Ministry Of Civil Aviation (Writ Petition No.21448 Of 2021), a single judge bench led by Honourable Justice R Devdas made the statement while dismissing a plea filed by petitioner Padmavathi Subramaniyan and two other Air India Limited employees  

According to the facts of the case, the petitioner had petitioned the court with a dispute regarding seniority after Air India Limited was privatised and taken over by a private company.  

The respondents, which included the Union of India, made a preliminary challenge to the petition’s maintainability. It was claimed that once Air India Limited is privatised and the full shareholdings are disinvested from the Government of India and a Private Company has taken over, the grievances of the Air India Limited employees cannot be redressed directly under this Court’s writ jurisdiction. 

The decision in Dr.Subramanian Swamy Vs. Union of India & Others by the Delhi High Court, which had occasion to evaluate the subject of disinvestment, was cited. In the case of Air India’s disinvestment, the Union of India had presented factual material to the Delhi High Court. 

Shanthi Bhushan, Assistant Solicitor General, noted in the order that the disinvestment of the Government of India’s shares was 100 percent in favour of M/s.Talace Private Limited. 

After that, the court stated, “Air India Limited is clearly now a private company owned by M/s.Talace Pvt. Ltd. Air India Limited, which was once a completely owned government of India enterprise, has changed its status and is now a private limited company. As a result, the petitioner’s grievance in the topic of seniority can only be addressed before the competent entity that can deal with the issue, not under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.” 

“The writ petition is dismissed,” it continued, “giving petitioners the liberty to approach the competent body to rectify their grievance in the subject of seniority.” 

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