While the Delhi High Court yesterday asked the agitating pilots to call off their strike in “larger public interest”, the ICPA leaders said they may move Supreme Court today after completing the legal consultations
New Delhi: Around 60 Air India flights were cancelled while several others delayed on the second day of the pilots’ strike which continued despite the Delhi High Court directing them to return to work, reports PTI.
In Delhi, 33 domestic and five international flights to Kathmandu, Kabul and Dubai were cancelled as the airline management decided to operate only those flights for which cabin crew as well as adequate pilots were available.
Similarly, unavailability of cockpit crew forced the national carrier to cancel around 19 flights, including two international ones, out of Mumbai.
“These cancellations have been done as per our contingency plan under which we had decided to operate only those flights for which pilots and cabin crew were available,” an Air India official said.
To tide over the crisis, the national carrier has decided to rope in 150 management or executive pilots to operate the flights, the official said.
Yesterday, at least 40 Air India flights were cancelled on the first day of the strike by its pilots causing enormous hardship to thousands of travellers.
Demanding removal of Air India CMD and a CBI probe into the alleged mismanagement, 800-odd pilots belonging to the erstwhile Indian Airlines and owing allegiance to the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) had gone on an indefinite strike from Tuesday midnight.
Taking a stern view of the strike, Air India management sacked six ICPA leaders including president captain A S Bhinder and general secretary captain Rishabh Kapur, derecognised the union and sealed their offices across the country.
Also, the Delhi High Court asked the agitating pilots to call off their strike in “larger public interest”.
The ICPA leaders said they may move Supreme Court today after completing the legal consultations.
Neville Tuli's latest promise to pay back money raised for Osian's Art Fund comes after the threat of collective action by some aggrieved investors
The threat of investor action has forced Neville Tuli, Chief Advisor, Osian Art Fund, to issue yet another promise to pay back those who invested in the controversial but high-profile art fund in 2006. This time, Mr Tuli says, those investors who haven't got any of their money back will be paid between 17th May to 29th May. Mr Tuli, who was apparently refusing to respond to investor queries, turned proactive after Moneylife took up the story of dozens of investors threatening to get together to file police complaints and lawsuits.
To recap, Osian Art Fund is a three-year close-ended fund launched in June 2006. It raised Rs102.40 crore from 656 unit-holders across 39 cities, most of them high net-worth individuals (HNIs). The scheme used to declare Net Asset Values (NAVs) showing 30% returns, but when it was time for redemption, the money wasn't forthcoming. The Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had also issued it a show-cause notice in November 2007 asking why it should not be regulated as a collective investment scheme; it also issued an advisory that civil and criminal proceedings can be started against art funds that were not registered with SEBI. The scheme was wound up on 10 July 2009, at which time Mr Tuli wrote to investors that redemptions would be made over the next 120 days as per the terms of the redemption guidelines. But by October, when the money wasn't forthcoming, Moneylife was the first to report on Osian's problems (Read Osian Art Fund delays payout).
Following our reports, many investors were paid anywhere between 40% to 100% of their principal but earned no returns at all. The rest have been kept hanging for two years with promises of payment. At one stage, investors were told that they would receive their money after an art auction in June 2010 to raise cash; again, no payments were made.
Finally, on 25th April, some angry investor got hold of a long list of aggrieved unit holders to get support for joint action. Immediately, some were offered artwork instead of cash. Some investors claimed that they had been 'forced' to accept artworks at extremely high valuations in lieu of their payment.
When Moneylife emailed Mr Tuli for this reaction, he reacted with anger and accused us of publishing distorted emails. In a subtle threat, he even began marking his legal firm Nishit Desai & Associates on his flurry of emails to us. At one stage, despite a clear SEBI advisory in February 2008, Mr Tuli even claimed that art funds are not declared as collective investment schemes by SEBI, they merely suggested that the collective investment scheme could be a possible option and/or a base to study a regulatory framework for art funds in the future. Our question in all the emails was simple. Was Mr Tuli planning to pay back investors who have not received any returns and anywhere between 60% to 100% of their principal, even two years after the Osian fund was wound up?
By the evening of 27th April, Mr Tuli told us that a statement would go out to all unit-holders about repayments. He even called some investors requesting them to hold off action. Finally, late in the evening, Mr Tuli wrote the following letter to unit-holders:
Dear Unit Holder,
The recent wave of emails by a few of you is understandable given the delays in the art fund's redemption. However, as always stated the Fund is totally committed to paying all our Unit Holders in full, and it continues to do so despite immense liquidity problems.
The instalment for those still awaiting their first payment will begin by Thursday, 17 May 2011 and will be completed by 29 May 2011 as mentioned earlier to the bankers. The offer for those who have chosen to take art in lieu of their redemption will be closed by Monday 7 May 2011 but can be renewed at any time for any individual Unit Holder who wishes to avail of such an offer.
I know at times our communication process has been slow, but please recognize that the bankers were initially dealing with all the Unit Holders, and now that this responsibility is mostly upon us, naturally it takes time given the small team available to the Osian's Art Fund. This is no excuse but coordinating on individual matters and mails with 656 investors has been very difficult. Maybe this coming together of a few investors will improve the communication.
Further, please desist from rash, defamatory and baseless allegations, without verifying the facts. I am always available to answer your queries and difficulties via email or SMS or direct lines. I am not going anywhere despite the wonderful suggestions by a few unit holders.
Once and for all, every thing in our power is being done so as to complete the redemption process, and I am sure despite the past delays, irrespective of the problems we are facing the full redemption process will be completed by the end of June 2011. You all have been very patient and graceful, and I am grateful for this courtesy, and do regret disappointing your expectations, but the key is that we do not give up on honouring our commitments whatever the personal cost and effort.
With Warm Regards
Chief Advisor Osian's Art Fund
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Earnings reports and weekly food inflation data will be keenly watched by investors
The Indian stock market is likely to open higher on the back of positive global cues. Wall Street closed in the positive overnight on assertions from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to enhance growth with low interest rates. The developments also spurred the Asian indices to open with gains on Thursday. The SGX Nifty gained 14.50 points to 5,850.50 compared to its previous close of 5,836.
Companies declaring their results today include Bank of Baroda, Biocon, Birla Corp, Crompton Greaves, HCL Infosystems, ICICI Bank, JSW Energy, LIC Housing Finance and Polaris. Besides earnings, the government will release the weekly food inflation figures, which will give further direction to the market in the day.
Tracking good global cues, the local market opened higher on Wednesday with the Sensex gaining 66 points at 19,611 and the Nifty up 16 points to 5,884. Amid choppy trade the indices touched the day’s high, with the Sensex scaling 19,634 and the Nifty at 5,892. However, the weak outlook from IT major Wipro disappointed the market, sending the indices into negative territory.
The see-saw movement continued till noon, when a huge bout of selling hurtled the indices further southwards. A mixed opening by key European bourses lifted investor sentiment a little in post-noon trade. But selling pressure pushed the market down once again to the day’s lows in post-noon trade. At the intra-day low the Sensex was at 19,413, down 132 points, and the Nifty shed 48 points to 5,820.
Fluctuation continued till the end of trade with losses expanding today. The Sensex closed the session at 19,449, down 97 points from its previous close, and the Nifty lost 35 points to settle at 5,834.
The market closed with modest losses, an indication that it is still in a range. Tepid quarterly earnings reports kept a lid on the market today. The Nifty is yet to break past the 5,900 levels, which is necessary for an uptrend. On the downside, support remains at 5,750 and then at 5,550.
Remarks by Fed chief Ben Bernanke at the end of the two-day policy meeting on Wednesday lifted the US markets to multi-year highs. Mr Bernanke stated that higher commodity prices have pushed inflation up, but these effects would be “transitory,” he added. He said that the central bank is likely to continue reinvesting maturing debt after June, when the Fed’s $600 billion bond buying comes to an end. Mr Bernanke reiterated his move to keep interest low for some more time.
The Dow Jones industrial average surged 95.59 points (0.76%) to 12,690.96, its highest close since 20 May 2008. The S&P added 8.42 points (0.62%) to 1,355.66, its best closing since 16 June 2008. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 22.34 points (0.78%) to 2,869.88, its best since 12 December 2000.
Gains in the US markets rubbed on the Asian indices, which were higher in early trade on Thursday. Comments from the Fed chief are expected to boost export-oriented economies in the region. Japanese looked past the dismal industrial output data for March and focused on the global economy instead. Industrial output fell 15.3% in March, higher than analysts’ forecast for an 11% fall and exceeding the previous record decline during the Lehman crisis in 2009. Reflecting worsening sentiment after the quake, household spending fell to a record 8.5% in March from a year earlier.
The US optimism was reflected in bourses across Asia, with the Shanghai Composite gaining 0.65% in early trade. The Hang Seng advanced 0.60%, the Jakarta Composite was up 0.30%, the KLSE Composite climbed 0.18%, the Nikkei 225 surged 1.28%, the Straits Times increased by 0.48%, the Seoul Composite rose 0.61% and the Taiwan Weighted gained 0.23%.
Back home, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the striking Air India pilots to return to work forthwith, as the management quickly terminated the services of six of their leaders and derecognised their union while government said the airline cannot be held at “gunpoint.”
Notwithstanding the court order, leaders of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) made up of 800 pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines and spearheading the stir said “we are continuing with our agitation as of now”.