Delhi HC constitutes special bench to hear plea against AirAsia, Tata-SIA

Written by Kaushal shroff | New Delhi | Updated: May 2 2014, 02:37am hrs
AirAsia IndiaThe special bench constituted by the High Court will hear the matter on July 11. (AP)
The Delhi High Court on Thursday said that it will constitute a special bench to hear the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) seeking a stay on the commencement of operations of two new aviation ventures, namely, AirAsia and Tata-SIA Airlines.

The special bench constituted by the High Court will hear the matter on July 11.

Earlier in April, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) had moved the court against the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and the aviation ministry approvals granted to the new airline joint venture between the the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines called Tata-SIA.

FIA is an airlines lobby group that represents Jet Airways, GoAir, SpiceJet, IndiGo and Kingfisher Airlines, which had earlier filed a petition in the Delhi High Court against the approvals granted to AirAsia as well.

The High Court on April 23 has allowed Swamy's plea seeking to implead DGCA as a party to a PIL seeking quashing of approvals being granted by the Centre to operationalise the USD 30 million deal between Tata Sons and Malaysia-based AirAsia.

Swamy had also sought initiation of contempt proceedings against an official of finance ministry for allegedly making false statement in a reply filed on behalf of the Centre on October 25, last year.

He claimed that the official had stated that issues of "substantial ownership" and "effective control" of the airline prior to grant of approval for FDI, was to be decided by DGCA.

However, DGCA in its February 21 public notice had said that FIPB is the competent authority to decide the same and it had examined these issues and taken a decision in April 2013.

Swamy said based on the false statement of the official, the high court refused to grant him any interim relief.

Swamy and the FIA are opposing clearance to the deal on the ground that according to government policy, foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 49 per cent is allowed in existing airlines which are already in operation and not to new or proposed joint ventures.

Swamy has alleged the USD 30 million joint venture between Tata Sons and Malaysia-based AirAsia Berhad, had to show before the FIPB that the airline would be essentially controlled by Indians, but this has not been done.