May 1, 2009 2:45:35 am
The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Airports Authority of India Ltd to give its staff members till July 31 to consider Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS). The Airports Authority should extend the time available to enable its employees to make a reasonable choice as far as VRS is concerned, Justice S Ravindra Bhatt said.
The order brings relief to numerous AAI staff members on the day the deadline was to expire,giving them three months time to make their choice. The court was hearing a writ petition filed by the Airport Authority Employees Union against the implementation of the Operation Management and Development Agreement (OMDA) entered into with Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL).
The union,represented by senior advocate Vikas Singh,alleged that the agreement resulted in the transfer of AAI employees to other zones like Dehradun due to lack of vacancies in Delhi. The union contended that these transfers were not allowed under the Airport Authority of India Act. The lawyer requested the extension of the VRS deadline on the ground that his clients case was more in the nature of legitimate expectation than on statutory rights,as the OMDA was allegedly signed without taking the employees into confidence.
Senior advocate V P Singh,representing the Ministry of Civil Aviation,on the other hand,said very few functions remained under the control of the Airports Authority after the agreement. The employees could opt for VRS,absorption into DIAL,or postings like Ambala and Kanpur,where functions exist for them. Singh said it was difficult to retain such a large number of employees in Delhi. We will not be able to pay their salaries if they insist on posts in Delhi, he said.
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The court also extended the tenure of the tripartite committee,set up by the Civil Aviation Ministry to resolve any disputes,comprising of employees representatives,the Airports Authority and officials of the Ministry,till July 31. The committee has been asked to submit a status report by June 15 to the government.
Meanwhile,a similar petition has been moved in the Supreme Court by Mumbai-based Indian Airports Kamgar Union. It is likely to come up for hearing on Friday.
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