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Delhi HC Rejects Termination of AI Pilots; Orders Reinstatement

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday came to the rescue of Air India pilots, including contractual ones, whose services were terminated by the company in August 2020, as it quashed the airline’s decision and directed their reinstatement.

Justice Jyoti Singh also directed that back wages would have to be paid to the reinstated pilots. The court added that the extension of the contract, in the future, of the contractual pilots would be at the discretion of Air India, based on their performance.

The court said the detailed judgment in the matter would be available only on June 2.

The court’s ruling has come on over 40 petitions filed by pilots whose services were terminated by Air India on August 13, 2020.

In November last year, the High Court had asked Air India to take a sympathetic view of the situation and said that the employees could not be left to hang high and dry.

Defending its decision, Air India had then told the court that after lockdown, 90 per cent of its regular pilots are sitting at home as most of its fleet has been grounded and cited huge losses of Rs 1,300 crore each month. The national carrier said that contractual obligations cannot be sought to be enforced by way of a writ petition and in this matter, a civil suit should be filed.

The High Court had asked Air India to consider the grievances of the pilots, who were engaged on contract after they superannuated. It had asked Air India to see whether there is a possibility of a “golden handshake” for them.


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