Karnataka High Court refuses to exercise U/Art 226 jurisdiction over employees’ plea

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The Karnataka High Court said that since Air India Limited is now a private company owned by M/s.Talace Pvt. Ltd., the grievance of the employees can only be redressed before the competent authority which can deal with the matter and not under Section 226 of the Constitution of India.

A single bench of judges of Judge R Devdas made this observation while denying a petition filed by petitioner Padmavathi Subramaniyan and two other employees of Air India Limited. The applicant had approached the court with a seniority grievance.

The respondents, including the Union of India, raised a preliminary objection regarding the maintainability of the petition. It has been said that once Air India Limited is privatized and the entire shares are divested from the hands of the Indian government and a private company takes over, the grievance of Air India Limited employees cannot be directly redressed within the jurisdiction in writ of this Court.

Reference was made to the judgment of the Delhi High Court in the case of Dr Subramanian Swamy Vs. Union of India & Others, which had the opportunity to consider the issue of the divestment process. The Indian Union had filed factual information in the Delhi High Court in the Air India divestment case.

Deputy Solicitor General Shanthi Bhushan pointed out in the order that the divestiture of Indian government shares was 100% in favor of M/s.Talace Private Limited.

Whereupon the court said,

It is clear that Air India Limited is now a private company owned by M/s.Talace Pvt. ltd. The previous position of Air India Limited which was a wholly Indian government owned company has changed and it is now a limited liability company. Therefore, the petitioner’s seniority grievance can only be redressed before the competent authority which can deal with the matter and not under Section 226 of the Constitution of India.

He added, “The request in brief is dismissed, granting the freedom to the applicants to apply to the competent authority to rectify their grievance in terms of seniority.”

Case Title: Ms. Padmavathi Subramaniyan v Ministry of Civil Aviation

Case No.: Petition in Brief No. 21448 of 2021

Citation: 2022 Livelaw (Kar) 125

Order date: April 6, 2022

Appearances: Senior Counsel MTNaniah, Counsel A/W Vishnu Hegde for the Petitioner; AFG Shanthi Bhushan H, for R1; Lawyer Sreenath VK, For R2 & R3; Ms. Kanika Chakrabarti, (Party in person)

Click here to read/download the order


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