The Maharashtra government on Tuesday, January 17 attached four Boeing 777 aircraft belonging to Jet Airways. The attachment action was carried out by the tehsildar office in Mumbai under the provision of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code for non-payment of gratuity to the employees.
The grounded airline’s employees have been fighting a legal battle for provident funds and gratuity. Last October the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal ruled that the successful resolution applicant Kalrock Jalan consortium was liable to pay
PF and gratuity dues to employees. The issue is now pending before the Supreme Court following an appeal by the consortium.
In November last year, the said union—All India Jet Airways Officers and Staff Association—sent a legal notice to the erstwhile resolution professional (RP) stating that no sale of airline assets should be carried out before the employees’ statutory dues are cleared.
A month earlier, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in an order said the Jalan-Kalrock consortium should clear the unpaid gratuity and provident fund dues of the eligible employees and workmen.
“From December 2021 we secured orders related to payment of gratuity from the assistant labour commissioner’s office in Mumbai. These were not challenged. In December we decided to initiate recovery action under the land revenue code and today the attachment action was carried out by the tehsildar.
The employees were forced to initiate recovery proceedings through the association in view of the failure of the company to settle their legitimate dues. Jet should follow the plan of ‘pay first and fly later’ before embarking on future plans as employees have contributed substantially to brand Jet Airways.”N Hariharan, Legal Advisor, All India Jet Airways Officers and Staff Association
A notice issued by the district administration states that the Jet Monitoring Panel Authorised Representative defaulted on gratuity dues payment of INR 9.6 lakh plus 10% interest. The notice further states that the aircraft will remain under the district administration’s custody until the payment is made.
This is a significant setback for Jet Airways, which has been facing financial troubles for some time now. The airline has been struggling to stay afloat, and this seizure of aircraft is likely to add to its woes.
India’s national company law tribunal has allowed the ownership of carrier Jet Airways to be transferred to a consortium, led by UAE-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan and London-based Kalrock Capital. The tribunal, which had already approved the consortium’s resolution plan for Jet, also set the effective date of ownership as November 16, 2022. Jet Airways, which suspended operations in April 2019, was supposed to resume operations in the first quarter of 2022.