The New Delhi bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) revived another case of insolvency against Air India, filed by a retired pilot of the airline. The pilot has claimed dues close to Rs 70 lakh from the debt-laden airline. The case will be next heard on January 14.
The dues of the retired pilot are for the period between July 2012 and January 2016. Apart from the retired pilot, a serving pilot of the company has also recently moved an insolvency application against the airline, claiming dues of nearly Rs 1 crore.
Under Section 9 of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), salaried employees can, acting as operational creditors, initiate insolvency proceedings against a corporate debtor.
A two-member bench led by Justice Deepti Mukesh also suggested that counsel for Air India could mention the case before NCLT President Justice M M Kumar and get both the cases listed there to avoid duplicity in orders passed by different benches of the same adjudicating authority.
The NCLT had agreed to hear the case filed by the serving pilot, following an October order by a two-judge Supreme Court Bench of Justice Rohinton Nariman and Justice V Ramasubramanian, which set aside the tribunal’s decision to adjourn the case sine die.
The apex court had asked the NCLT to reconsider the pilot’s plea for initiation of insolvency against Air India. The two-judge SC Bench had then said though it was aware of case pending with it, the same could not come in the way of the NCLT hearing the insolvency petition filed by the pilot under The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
Cases such as these could create problems for the Central government’s plan to float an Expression of Interest (EoI) for divestment of its stake in the debt-laden national carrier. The government had planned to float the EoI in November, but it could be delayed — it has been reported that a new proposal could come only by January 2020.
The Centre had floated an EoI last year to sell 76 per cent stake in AI, which has a debt of around Rs 57,000 crore. The attempt had failed.