The Delhi high court on Wednesday refused to stay Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh’s controversial order drastically increasing the flying hours of Air India cabin crew.
A larger bench of chief justice D Murugesan and justice RS Endlaw decined to stay the November 27 order of a single bench upholding the rule and refusing to give interim relief. The two-judge bench however agreed to hear the appeal filed by the 50 cabin crew on January 15.
“Since the Airlines is going through a crucial financial crisis, then in such a situation, it becomes the duty of each and every person, who is part and parcel of the institution to work as per the established industry practices to enable the respondent Airlines to pull through from its present position”, justice Suresh Kait had said disposing off petitions filed by 50 cabin crew for staying the minister’s order dated September 12, 2012.
The directive has resulted in increased duty hours of the cabin crew by varying degrees depending upon the sectors they fly. “The present modalities are not final as the same are still to be worked out, therefore, it is required that the petitioners should also be open to changes in their way of functioning which may include a little variation in their work hours”, said the judge.
Refusing to intervene with the policy at this stage, the court said it was not inclined to stay the operation of the drastic changes in flight duty time limitations.
Arvind Kumar Sharma, the lawyer for the cabin crew had argued a memorandum of settlement between the Air India and the cabin crew did not permit such drastic increase in working hours and “even otherwise duty time limitations was the sole prerogative of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Some of the petitioners were those who had put in 28-30 years of service and on the verge of retirement.