The Supreme Court on Friday made apparent its disapproval of air hostesses being dismissed for being overweight and said passengers would be happier if the focus was on their demeanour. "All the passengers will be happy if your air hostesses are good with them instead of (your adopting) this approach," observed a bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and H.L. Dattu while hearing a bunch of lawsuits by a group of 13 Indian air hostesses.
"I also tried to reduce my weight but I failed," remarked Justice Chatterjee, disapproving of the move to dismiss the air hostesses for their failure to cut flab.
The air hostesses, some dismissed from service and others divested of flight duty and grounded for putting on 'excessive' weight, have approached the court challenging the company's decision.
They have come to the court also challenging the Delhi High Court's verdict of June 4, 2008, which upheld the policy of the state-run Indian Airlines, now known as Indian after its merger with Air India.
Counsel for the dismissed air hostesses Sheela Joshi and others, Arvind Sharma, pleaded that they be protected from dismissal while the lawsuit was being heard.
However, the court refused to give them relief despite according them a sympathetic ear. "We cannot help you at this stage. But we will try to help you at the final stage," said Justice Chatterjee, refusing to accede to Sharma's plea that it should restrain the airlines from dismissing any of the 6,000-odd air hostesses on the grounds of being overweight.
"What they are going to do with other air hostesses, we do not know," pleaded Sharma.
As the court wanted to hear the government's view on the matter, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam defended the policy saying: "We have given them four years to knock off a few pounds."
Subramaniam told the court that the government "dispensed with their services" only in terms of the contractual agreement with them, which stipulated certain physical parameters as per international conventions.
"Please knock off a few pounds. Please knock off a few pounds. We had been pushing the deadlines for four years, but they failed," said Subramanian. The court adjourned the matter to August.