HC seeks Centre, AirAsia responses on FIA's plea

HC seeks Centre, AirAsia responses on FIA's plea New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought responses of the Centre and AirAsia on a plea by Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) opposing the go-ahead given to the airline to begin its flight operations in India.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and justice S Mridul also issued notice to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and renotified the matter for March 12 to be heard with BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's plea challenging clearances granted to the airline.

The bench also asked the Centre, airline and other respondents to file their counter reply to an additional affidavit filed by Swamy, who has alleged that either the responses filed by the authorities before the court are "false and misleading" or the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) "has acted illegally and in utter disregard of law".

Swamy later told the media outside the court that he intends to file a contempt plea against the Central Government on this issue of alleged "false representations".

During the proceedings, Swamy alleged before the bench that licence have been obtained by making false representations to this court.

He alleged that the USD 30 million joint venture, between Tata Sons and Malaysia based AirAsia Berhad, had to show before the FIPB that the airline would be essentially controlled by Indians, but the same has not been done.

In its plea, FIA has sought quashing of the approval granted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to the airline.

FIA has moved the high court after the Director General of Civil Aviation on February 21 granted a permit to AirAsia to commence its scheduled air operations. In its petition, the federation has also sought that AirAsia be "restrained from commencing business as an airline operator in India".

Swamy, on being ordered by the apex court, had filed the PIL in the high court seeking various reliefs including setting aside of all "approvals/permissions" granted to the Tata-AirAsia joint venture.

He had also filed two applications, which had been earlier decided, seeking interim relief of stay on decision taken on April 3, 2013 by the Centre and restraining it from granting any further approval/NOC to the joint venture.

The two interim pleas have been dismissed by the high court and the Supreme Court had refused to pass any interim direction to the Centre on granting various clearances and license to fly.

The apex court had also made it clear that the outcome of the pending petition in the high court will affect the joint venture deal.

Swamy's PIL has opposed clearance to the deal on the ground that according to government policy, foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 49 percent is allowed in existing airlines which are already in operation and not to new or proposed joint ventures.