Former pilot fined for misusing PIL
The Delhi High Court has taken serious view of people using courts to settle scores with individuals or an organisation by filing suits under the garb of Public Interest Litigations.
The court dismissed such a petition filed by a former Indian airlines pilot and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on him. P.N. Sharma’s PIL sought directions to Indian airlines to review the emergency landing procedure followed by its A 320 aircraft, contending that the existing “faulty and unsafe” method put the lives of passengers at risk.
The petition was dismissed after the airlines convinced the judges Sharma –– who claimed to have 30 years experience of 16,000 flying hours flying various aircraft like DC-3, Boeing 737, Airbus A 320 –– had filed the PIL out of personal vendetta.
The airlines stated in the court that Sharma’s “professional background has been such that he has tried to implicate his seniors who had found his job performance to be unsatisfactory”.
“We are of the view that the present petition is without merit and is misuse of public interest litigation…Indian Airlines claim the petitioner was suffering from an attitude problem and also anxiety and depression. In these circumstances we would give to the petitioner the benefit of doubt that it may be the action of a person who misdirected himself and not one with oblique motives,” observed a Bench of Justices Manmohan Sarin and Manmohan.
The court also took note of a civil suit Sharma had instituted against the airlines, claiming a compensation of Rs 2.6 crore for cutting short his career by 10 years by “relentless harassment at work place” and “forcing him to fly the unsafe A 320 aircraft”.
Pointing out that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the only statutory authority having expertise to deal with the petitioner’s contentions, the airlines said the court was not the appropriate forum for such an exercise.