The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday stayed cognisance of offence taken against Air India Ltd. and its Chief Operating Officer (COO) by a judicial magistrate in Mangalore in connection with the death of 158 persons in the 2010 crash of Air India Express IX 812 Boeing 737-800 at Mangalore airport.

Justice K.N. Keshavanarayana passed the interim order in a petition filed by Air India Ltd. and its COO, Ansbert D’Souza, challenging the February 19, 2013 order passed by the Judicial Magistrate First Class while entertaining a private complaint filed by 812 Foundation.

The magistrate had taken cognisance of offence under Section 304(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Air India for allegedly causing the death of passengers in the aircraft by negligence not amounting to culpable homicide. Besides Air India, the magistrate had taken cognisance of offence against the Airport Authority of India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, and 13 top executives of these two organisations.

The magistrate had taken cognisance of offence on the basis that there was a “deemed sanction” for prosecution of public servants named in the complaint while citing the Supreme Court’s order in Subramanian Swamy vs Manmohan Singh.

However, the petitioners have contended that the Supreme Court order in that case pertained to Prevention of Corruption Act and not under Section 197 of the IPC and hence, the magistrate was wrong.

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