Jet-Etihad deal: Supreme Court adds more teeth to Swamy’s PIL
A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice T. S. Thakur and Justice U. U. Lalit instructed Subramanian Swamy to make other private airlines to be parties to his Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the seat allocation deal between Jet Airways and Etihad. The Court further said that in the likelihood of its cancelling the agreement between India and United Arab Emirates (UAE), it wanted to hear from other airlines who may benefit from this.
…the concessions given to Etihad Airlines were a way of compensating the Emir of Abu Dhabi for the losses suffered by Etisalat on account of cancellation of 2G licences by the apex court…
– Subramanian Swamy
Asking Swamy to implead private airliners like Indigo, Spice Jet and the Federation of Indian Airlines, the bench also asked him to challenge the agreement paving way for Etihad to pick up more passengers from various destinations in India.
What you have challenged is the MoU but “you have to challenge the agreement (consequent to MoU). Some of them (private airlines) are not there, those who are not there you have to include them as respondent,” said the bench asking Swamy to amend his petition.
The MoU between India and Abu Dhabi was signed in April 2013 and agreement between Jet-Etihad was signed on December 27, 2013.
Giving Swamy two weeks’ time to amend his petition, the court gave four weeks’ time to the government and other respondents to file their response. The court gave another two weeks’ time to Swamy to file rejoinder to the response by the government as it directed the listing of the matter on July 19.
In the course of the hearing, Swamy told the court that the concessions given to Etihad Airlines were a way of compensating the Emir of Abu Dhabi for the losses suffered by Etisalat on account of cancellation of 2G licences by the apex court. He told the court that Emir of Abu Dhabi was the head of Etisalat.
At this, the court said that he could say this (alleged concession to Etihad) “was for a collateral purpose and not in public interest”.
Swamy had in 2013 challenged the Jet-Etihad deal and its approval by the government permitting UAE’s national carrier to acquire 24 percent stakes in Jet Airways.
Alleging that there was lack of transparency in the deal, the PIL by Swamy had said that it would result in “a grant of largesse of national asset in favour of a foreign airline (Etihad Airways) resulting in undue enrichment and enormous pecuniary advantage to such foreign airline at the cost and expense of the public, national and domestic airlines as well as airports”.
The PIL had assailed the government for entering into agreement with UAE permitting Etihad Airways to carry 36,670 more passenger over and above permitted 13,330 passengers per week, describing the increase in capacity entitlement as “unprecedented, arbitrary, irrational and unsustainable”.
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