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Business News/ Companies / News/  Bombay HC allows Akasa Air’s plea challenging pilot’s exit
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Bombay HC allows Akasa Air’s plea challenging pilot’s exit

Justice Modak said that a part of the cause of action has taken place in the jurisdiction of this court

Bombay HC allows Akasa Air’s plea challenging pilot’s exit (PTI)Premium
Bombay HC allows Akasa Air’s plea challenging pilot’s exit (PTI)

Mumbai: In its ruling on Wednesday, the Bombay High Court granted permission for the leave petition filed by Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-owned Akasa Air to proceed against the five pilots who departed from the company without fulfilling their notice period obligations.

The high court has agreed to hear the matter for considering interim reliefs to Akasa on 4 October.

A bench led by Justice SM Modak held that “I am inclined to grant leave since sending resignation is through mail. Company takes a call on that point. Either company may refuse to accept resignation or may accept it conditionally or may accept it for future date."

Justice Modak added that a part of the cause of action has taken place in the jurisdiction of this court. Moreover, the Indian Contracts Act stipulates that acceptance is considered complete when it is brought to the knowledge of the concerned parties.

“Whether the resignation is repudiation or termination or cancellation can be gone into later. For these reasons held above, I conclude that part of cause of action has occured in Mumbai and hence leave is granted," he said.

The high court’s order follows a petition filed by India’s newest airline, Akasa, which had dragged its former employees to the Bombay High Court after they quit the airline without serving the mandatory six-month notice period. Reportedly, the pilots had received recruitment offers from Tata-owned Air India Express.

As a retaliatory measure, Akasa sought nearly 21 crore from each of the pilots as damages and an additional 18 lakh for breach of the company’s contract. Pertinently, the airline has also asked the court to direct the pilots to serve their mandatory notice period.

The major contention of the pilots was that the Bombay High Court did not have the jurisdiction to rule in the matter. This was, however, vehemently opposed by Akasa Air in its arguments.

Janak Dwarkadas, senior counsel appearing for Akasa argued that the company had written proofs of the employment and training agreement which were executed in Mumbai. “Additionally, the company had received the resignations in Mumbai itself... therefore the cause of action, which is a breach of the contract, arose in Mumbai. Hence, the suit was maintainable before the Bombay HC," the senior counsel pointed out.

On the other hand, senior advocate Darius Khambata appearing for one of the pilots argued that the jurisdiction of the Bombay High Court was chosen for the benefit of lower court fees by the airlines.

He stated at the outset that one could not choose court jurisdiction by way of contract and no court could be given exclusive jurisdiction under a contract.

He submitted that the agreement had been executed outside Mumbai as the company had sent hard copies of the agreements to the pilots for signatures and they had then sent it back to the company.

He further argued that the pilots had sent their resignations from places outside Mumbai. He submitted that the place where the resignation was accepted could not be the jurisdiction of the court.

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Priyanka Gawande
Priyanka Gawande is a senior legal correspondent at Mint. She has worked as legal reporter for four years with both television and digital mediums. Based in Mumbai, she reports on disputes across sectors including banking, corporates and finance. This also includes insolvency and bankruptcy cases and intellectual property rights (IPR) litigation. Her focus also comprises tracking capital markets and disputes relating to securities law. Previously, Priyanka worked with Informist Media for 2.5 years covering major insolvency and bankruptcy cases and corporate developments. She started her career in journalism with Business Television India (BTVi) where she reported on primary markets, banking, finance and insurance companies.
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Updated: 27 Sep 2023, 04:40 PM IST
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