Akasa Air, which has been in the news following resignation of pilots en masse leading to numerous flight cancellations and leaving passengers stranded, has approached the Bombay High Court seeking compensation of Rs21 crore each from five pilots who resigned from the company.
The pilots resigned reportedly following job offers from Air India Express. Justice SM Modak, on Thursday, heard a suit by SNV Aviation Pvt Ltd, which runs the airline, against the pilots.
The airline has claimed that the pilots abruptly exited the company without serving the mandatory 6-month notice period.
It has sought direction to the pilots to pay Rs18 lakh for breach of contract and Rs21 crore each for damages to the airline’s reputation due to flight cancellations, rescheduling and grounding. It has also prayed for an interim direction to the pilots to serve their 6-month notice period.
However, the pilots have questioned the filing of the suit before the Bombay HC contending that the cause of the dispute arose outside Mumbai. Further they claimed that the airline company ought to have obtained leave of the court as per HC Rules to continue with its suit in Mumbai before seeking any other relief.
Employment Contract States Any Disputes Will Lead To Legal Consequences
According to the suit, the pilots executed individual employment agreements as well as a pilot’s training agreement with the company. The employment agreement specified that pilots have to serve a six-month notice period after tendering their resignation. The contract specifically stated that any disputes arising from the contract were exclusively to be filed before courts and judicial forums in Mumbai.
The training agreement also specified that the term of training was two years and in the event the pilot breached this agreement, an amount of Rs18 lakh would be payable to the company by the pilot concerned.
The airline’s counsel Janak Dwarkadas contended that since the agreements were executed in Mumbai and the company received the resignations in Mumbai, the suit was maintainable before the Bombay HC.
Senior Advocate Darius Khambata, appearing for the pilots, 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. The HC will continue hearing the suit on September 25.