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Petitions challenging Air-India’s decision to transfer engineering workers to a subsidiary company of the airline has been dismissed by the Bombay High Court.

Observing that employees have no vested right to question the policy of employer to reorganise or hive off workers, the Bombay High Court has dismissed petitions challenging Air-India’s decision to transfer engineering workers to a subsidiary company of the airline.

“The petitions are devoid of merits and hence are being dismissed,” said Justices Ajay Khanvilkar and A P Bhangale in their 99-page judgement on April 2.

The Air-India and the Union government had taken a policy decision to transfer aircraft and service engineers to a separate company called Air-India Engineering Services Ltd.

Air-India said the decision was part of its “Turn Around Policy” (TAP) and was taken in public interest to ensure that the airline capitalises on the growth in the aviation sector in and around India.

This was challenged by Air-India Aircraft Engineers Association, All India Service Engineers Association and Air-India Employees Union saying that the decision was not only illegal and arbitrary but also in violation of service conditions and agreements made by the airline with employees.

The Unions argued that the engineering department had been hived off to Air-India Engineering Services Ltd, which was already in financial difficulty. There is a staggering amount of outstanding wages to the extent of Rs 100 crores payable to its employees.

Further, they argued, there was no guarantee that this subsidiary of Air-India would become self-sufficient and self-sustaining, in any case, before seven years as per the projections in TAP.

However, the court observed, “this argument will have to be negatived keeping in mind exhaustive reports and consultation papers pertaining to TAP. From that, it is amply clear that all financial aspects have been taken into account and then the final decision of hiving off was taken at the highest level.”

“There is no reason, therefore, to doubt the decision of hiving off on the basis of the point under consideration. In our opinion, the apprehension is outcome of misinformation and devoid of merits,” the bench observed.


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