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Court blocks easy exit routes for air force pilots

delhi Updated: Mar 15, 2008 13:30 IST
Harish V Nair
Harish V Nair
Hindustan Times
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The Delhi High Court on Friday approved the Indian Air Force’s stringent premature retirement norms for pilots in the face of massive exodus to lucrative commercial airline companies.

The HC dismissed a petition filed by three IAF pilots, challenging the rejection of their request for premature retirement on grounds of illness of their parents. “It is an indisputable fact that during previous years, the IAF were liberal in granting premature retirement but that position has undergone a tremendous change. The number of pilots is reducing day by day, there is exodus of pilots and therefore, the IAF shall not be liberal in granting in the applications and shall decide them on the basis of circumstances of each case,” the court said.

Pointing to the refusal of petitioners — Sqn. Leaders Himanshu Goswami, V Shukla and P Baskhi — to drop their demand despite an offer to be transferred near their hometowns, a Bench of Justices AK Sikri and JM Malik said: “It is therefore, easy to cull out the malafide intention of the petitioners.”

The bench said it could not lose sight of the induction of numerous private airlines and growing demand for commercial pilots. “We do not say so on surmises but a petitioner has himself stated in clause D of grounds that the right of employment for better prospects is available to him and same cannot be denied. This gives an indication that ...the petitioner may join some other airline.”

The court upheld the contention of IAF counsel Jyoti Singh that pilots on whose training the government spends crores, cannot be allowed to quit abruptly on grounds of family problems.

“At the time of joining the elite force, the petitioner was aware of the exigencies of the service... Domestic problems do come in the way of armed personnel. These forces are trained to overcome these difficulties and not to succumb to these problems, which we would call tiny problems in comparison to the interest of the nation,” the court said.