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Government took every care to protect the interests of employees during disinvestment of Air India: What Madras HC said dismissing plea by Air Corporation Employees Union

The Madras High Court was hearing the plea filed by the Air Corporation Employees Union, who had alleged that the Air India disinvestment process was rushed without adopting due consultative process with the workers.

On Friday, the Madras High Court dismissed a plea filed by the Air Corporation Employees Union seeking directions to the Central government to protect their rights and service conditions before the government proceeds with Air India’s disinvestment and privatisation.

According to reports, the Madras High Court has said that it is fully convinced that the centre has protected the Air India employees’ interests while considering the ailing public sector airline.

The High Court also noted there was no enforceable right asking for court’s intervention, and an economic policy decision cannot be subject to judicial audit in a routine manner.

“An economic policy decision in furtherance of larger public interest cannot be subjected to judicial audit habitually or routinely merely on the ground that there was no opportunity of hearing afforded to the employees,” the judgment said.

The Madras High Court was hearing the plea filed by the Air Corporation Employees Union, who had alleged that the Air India disinvestment process was rushed without adopting due consultative process with the workers.

Dismissing the plea that claimed disinvestment was done in a non-transparent manner, the Madras HC bench of Justice V Parthiban observed that the government appeared to have taken every care not to jettison the interests of its employees.

“Considering the fact that Air India Ltd before the disinvestment initiative was a sinking company, a fortuitous transformation has happened for their own good…this Court would have no hesitation to hold that at the end of the day, the Government handed out a fair, reasonable, just and equitable package to the employees,” the court noted.

The court also stressed that the interests of the employees were sufficiently protected by the measures taken by the government, both before and after signing the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Talace Private Limited of the Tata Group.

“Therefore, it is too late in the day to stall the process of disinvestment merely on such a slippery challenge,” it added.

Last year, the employees union approached the court with a petition to restrain the union government from disinvesting Air India without fully protecting the employee service conditions. 

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