HC directs Kingfisher airlines to pay over Rs 29L to ex-pilot

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Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines has been directed by the Delhi High Court to pay one of its former pilots over Rs 29 lakh, the amount of his outstanding salary with interest for the period from March 2012 to July 26, 2012.

Justice Manmohan Singh ordered the grounded carrier to pay Rs 28,95,000 to its former pilot, Captain Dinesh Kant Sharma, on his plea seeking payment of his salary for the notice period of five months.

The court also dismissed Kingfisher Airline's plea for "leave to defend".

"Accordingly, the suit of the plaintiff for recovery of arrears of salary of approximately five months of Rs 28,95,000 is decreed. As far as the claim of the plaintiff (Sharma) for interest is concerned, the same is also granted at 10 per cent per annum from the end of each month for which the salary is due till the date of payment," the court said.

Sharma, represented by advocates Jasmeet Singh and Kumud Singh, had sought, apart from the salary amount of Rs 28,95,000, 18 per cent interest as well as gratuity of Rs 2.68 lakh.

In its defence, the grounded airline had raised various contentions including that the amount claimed is not payable as Sharma had failed to complete 70 flying hours which was mandatory for payment of monthly salary.

The court dismissed the contentions, relying upon the reasons given by another bench which had dealt with a similar plea of another former pilot of the airline.

On the issue of flying hours, the other bench had held that if there was any shortfall in flying hours, the same should have been attributed to the pilot and "without any such plea, there can be no deduction on the said account".

Justice Manmohan Singh also noted that "there is really no denial or dispute raised by the defendant (airline) to the claim of the plaintiff for recovery of arrears of his salary" to say there is no dispute for adjudication by arbitration.

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