The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notices to the Union Government, the Civil Aviation Ministry and others on a public interest litigation seeking investigation by a special investigation team or the CBI into alleged unnecessary purchase and lease of a large number of aircraft, deliberate losing of market share of Air India due to loss of profit-making routes and for unearthing the role of senior officers of the Ministry and the top management running the business in it.
The petitioner, non-government organisation Centre for Public Interest Litigation, submitted that the Ministry through its deliberate and misdirected decisions and actions had driven the Air India and Indian Airlines into losses to the tune of thousands of crores.
Now the Government had bailed-out these airlines at a huge cost to the exchequer. The entities that had benefited out of this affair were the foreign aircraft manufacturers and private Indian and foreign airlines, the petitioner alleged.
Clearly, the decisions, which were made without any application of mind, appear to have been made on extraneous considerations, the petitioner added.
The Ministry had gone for a huge fleet expansion programme in which purchase orders for 111 aircraft were given. This unnecessary expansion was made without any proper study and transparency, the petition alleged.
The purchase orders of the aircraft were given at a whopping cost of Rs.67,000 crore. Loans were taken from the U.S. and Indian banks to finance the same and today the airlines are deep in debt and suffering huge losses, the petition stated.
The petitioner urged the Court to direct the National Aviation Corporation of India Limited to cancel purchase orders of the aircraft for which payments had not yet been made and aircraft not been delivered and direct the Government to henceforth appoint only professionals and experts as Chairman and Managing Director and directors on the Board of NACIL who have experience in running airlines as has been recommended by the Parliamentary Committee.
Issuing the notices, a Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta asked the respondents to file replies to the petition by May 11.
Keywords: Judicial activism