A 43-YEAR-OLD Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) holder since 1999 has filed a damages suit of Rs 98.70 crore at the Chandigarh district courts against the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA), Haryana Civil Aviation Department, Haryana Institute of Civil Aviation at Pinjore and the former chief flying instructor of the institute, alleging that he could not attain job as a commercial pilot as he got the CPL in 2018 after a gap of 20 years due to delay caused by the authorities.
Lakhbir Singh has filed the damages suit in the court of Sanjay, Civil Judge (Junior Division). The hearing of the matter is scheduled for September 30, when the authorities are to file a reply. Singh, a resident of Mohali, is currently working as a ground instructor at Patiala Aviation Club.
In his petition, Singh has submitted that he was issued Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) by DGCA on April 18, 2018, but with effect from September 13, 1999, following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Singh’s petition stated that on May 26, 1995, following an advertisement issued by Advisor, Civil Aviation Haryana, inviting applications from Haryana domicile candidates for admission to Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) courses, Singh opted for obtaining a CPL at that time. For this, he was required to undergo 250 hours of flying training and to pass the technical papers. He thus got admission in Pinjore Aviation Club as a sponsored candidate for getting flying training and was supposed to complete his flying training within three years. However, the Civil Aviation Department, Haryana, Advisor, Civil Aviation Haryana, Pinjore Aviation Club, former chief flying instructor of the institute, deliberately delayed the flying training in order to cause a loss to Singh.
Singh alleged that he passed all the technical papers in a timely manner and thus, became entitled to receive the Haryana Flying Quota which was not granted to him by the authorities as per his entitlement. Since the knowledge papers had a validity of two years, and then due to non-grant of the ‘Haryana Flying Quota’, not only was the flying training delayed but also the validity of the knowledge papers lapsed.
Singh alleged that the then chief flying instructor resorted to nepotism and favouritism while allotting flying hours to the trainees due to which he was purposely not granted the Haryana Flying Quota, while several candidates were getting training on the basis of fake documents and domiciles. Singh said that after approaching the High Court thrice through a civil writ petition in 1997, and a contempt petition in 1999, he was allowed to complete his entire flying training of 250 hours in 1999. But at that stage two of his papers lapsed by more than 10 months as validity of papers was two years from date of passing and the DGCA refused to issue CPL to Singh on the grounds that two technical papers had lapsed by more than 10 months and extension of the validity period for the papers cannot be granted beyond six months, which was wrongly rejected, as similar applicants were granted extension, Singh alleged.
Singh then again filed a fresh petition in the High Court in 1999, challenging the order of DGCA, which did not grant him extension of 10 months. The order of High Court was in favour of Singh in 2010, which directed the DGCA to grant him CPL within eight weeks’ time from September 13, 1999. However, DGCA filed an appeal against the High Court order in 2011, which was dismissed in 2013. Since Singh was not given the CPL again, he filed a contempt of the 2010 order against DGCA in 2014 at the High Court, wherein the DGCA admitted to provide CPL to Singh if he passes all the examinations again and clear the skill test. It was in 2017, when after passing the examination again, Singh submitted his paper for getting licence, and on attaining the age of 42, in 2018 he received the licence finally.
Singh has stated that due to the delay in getting the licence, he faced a lot of difficulties during this period and did not have any other option but to live with his family in poor condition at a village near Chandigarh. He stated that one can work as a pilot till the age of 65 and his current age is 43. Now he has become overage to get a job in any airline. In this way his past 20 years as well as future 23 years have been spoiled by the authorities concerned as he is currently earning Rs 40,000 per month while his colleagues who got their CPL issued from DGCA in 1999 have joined various airlines as pilot and are earning Rs 8-10 lakh per month by working as a pilot.