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What's wrong with Air India, asks court

While hearing a petition filed by an airhostess challenging her dismissal from Air India (AI) a fortnight before her retirement, the Bombay High Court wondered what was wrong with the airline.

mumbai Updated: Nov 19, 2010 01:31 IST

While hearing a petition filed by an airhostess challenging her dismissal from Air India (AI) a fortnight before her retirement, the Bombay High Court wondered what was wrong with the airline.

A division bench of Justice PB Majmudar and Justice Mridula Bhatkar was hearing a petition filed by Rani Radhakrishnan.

On July 15, Arvind Jadhav, chairman and managing director of AI, had issued an order dismissing Radhakrishnan from service without full retirement benefits. She was due to retire on July 31 on attaining superannuation.

The case is ostensibly related to a complaint filed by one Soman Alappat alleging that Radhakrishnan's husband Sebastian Felix, who ran a travel agency, and two others had cheated him of Rs 5.74 lakh by promising to assist his brother-in-law get a job visa to the UK, but got it for South Africa.

The complaint said Radhakrishnan had accompanied her husband to the house of Alappat in Cochin in 2004. An FIR had been filed with a local court at Ernakulam.

The airline issued a charge sheet on October 11, 2006, and placed her under suspension. But the complainant withdrew the case saying it was mistakenly filed and she was reinstated after a warning on July 7, 2008.

The petition said the disciplinary, appellate and reviewing authorities are the assistant, deputy and general managers. Under the Air India Employees Service Regulation, the MD is empowered to "entertain request/appeal for reviewing cases". In the absence of any request or appeal to him, Jadhav has no authority, she said.

Mohan Bir Singh, her advocate, argued that she was not given a hearing. "How can I be punished for assumed wrongdoing on the part of my husband?" argued Singh. Justice Majmudar remarked: "What type of airline is this? Nobody seems to be applying their mind."

Advocate for the AI said the airline was considering giving a fresh hearing to Radhakrishnan.