Bombay HC Refuses to Withdraw Eviction Notices to Air India Employees; Allows Them to Stay at Staff Quarters till Ganesh Chaturthi

Priya Gour

Published on: 26 August, 2022 at 19:10 IST

The Bombay High Court has provided a time frame to the Air India and other Unions’  employees to vacate their staff quarters at Kalina in Mumbai.

The bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik has granted them a window upto 24th September, till the conclusion of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. The bench declined to dismiss eviction notices challenged by three employees’ unions- the Aviation Industry Employees Guild (AIEG), Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU), and All India Service Engineers Association (AISEA).

The court said,

“Since Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated widely and passionately in Bombay, till September 24, there won’t be any coercive action against those who continue to reside in the house.”

The Matter:

Around 1,800 employees of Air India residing in staff quarters of suburban Mumbai apprehended eviction after the Ministry of Civil Aviation last September issued directions to Air India regarding the retention of office accommodation.

The employees were asked to give a 6 month undertaking to vacate the staff quarter premises after the company’s disinvestment.

Later, a strike was announced by the union, after which the matter was referred to the Labour Commissioner for conciliation. But the company issued eviction notices to the employees even before the submission of the conciliation report.

The aggrieved employees approached the High Court with a plea. It was submitted that, as per the Air India Allotment Rules, the accommodation was till retirement or cessation of service of the employees. And so, they be allowed to stay until the termination of their services. It was also submitted that the conciliation proceedings had been closed.

The company assured the Court that it would not take any action for the vacation of the premises before the deadline. The proceedings under the Public Premises Act shall take place only on failure to vacate after the deadline.

Out of the 1,800 employees, 70 percent voluntarily executed the undertaking, and around 300 occupants also vacated the premises after that.

The company submitted that: 

“The writ petition was not maintainable as Air India was not a “State” under Article 12 of the Constitution. And that the petitioner-employees were only licensees, having no interest in acquiring property. And the court should decide on a merit basis, considering the fact that the conciliation proceedings have already ended.”

Consequently, the court permitted the employees to stay in the premises till September 24, 2022.

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