Façade of ‘Commercial Decision’

Senior Advocate, Sanjoy Ghose argued for Captain Arvind Kumar Sharma, Captain K Sai Sashanka, Captain Jeetender Yadav, Captain Jitender Singh Randhawa, Captain Adish M. Chavan, Captain Reuben James, Captain B Sujimon, Captain Vishal V Chandorkar and Captain Vijay Kumar Dahiya before Hon’ble Justice Jyoti Singh of Hon’ble High Court of Delhi. The common thread was a ‘surmountable and vincible challenge’ to acceptance of ‘resignations‘, by Respondent-Air India Ltd., after the same were withdrawn prior to acceptance. In my humble opinion, I do not see an iota of healthy reason why this should travel to SCI.

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Respondent is wholly owned and controlled by Government of India. It would be necessary to examine the concept of resignation in the realm of service jurisprudence. To relinquish an office means to ‘cease to hold’. Where relinquishment is of a bilateral character, communication of intention is by itself not sufficient and some action is required to be taken on such communication. A resignation tendered by an employee indicating a prospective or a future date from when the resignation is to take effect, can be withdrawn at any time before it is accepted, in absence of anything to the contrary in applicable rules or terms and conditions of service. The inevitable position emerges, Petitioners had a right to withdraw resignations prior to their acceptance. The moment resignations were withdrawn, during notice period and prior to acceptance, they were non-existent in the eyes of law on the dates of respective decisions to accept them.

Respondent cannot claim financial constraints or ‘impact of pandemic’ as a ground for dispensing services of its employees. Respondent had taken a categorical stand, both orally and in writing, no permanent employee including Pilots, other than Petitioners, have been retrenched or terminated or laid off or dispensed with. It is not understandable why a discriminatory action has been taken which fails on the touchstone of Article 14. The façade of ‘commercial decision’ cannot apply to a miniscule percentage of employees, while keeping employments of every other employee intact.

Hon’ble Justice Jyoti Singh, ‘Lead Petition’, Abhinav Gaur v. Air India Ltd., [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 5614 of 2020].

PILOT