The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the order of the Delhi High Court allowing aircraft lessors of cash-strapped Go First airline to inspect their aircraft at least twice a month to carry out maintenance work.
A bench, headed by CJI D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, dismissed the special leave petition (SLP) filed by the resolution professional – appointed under the insolvency law to manage the airline – challenging the order passed by the high court in favour of the lessors.
"Since proceedings are pending before Delhi High Court where petitions are being argued on day to day basis, we are not entertaining this (SLP) at the present stage,” the bench said.
The top court said that the question of jurisdiction will also be decided by the single bench of the High Court.
On July 5, a bench of Justice Tara Vitasta Ganju had allowed lessors to inspect their aircraft after they filed a bunch of applications in the main petitions seeking to de-register their aircraft currently on lease with Go First, to avoid any further losses.
Justice Ganju had also asked the aviation regulator DGCA to allow the lessors, and their employees and agents to access the airport, where their aircraft are currently parked, and to inspect them within three days.
The interim order passed by the single judge was upheld by a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula on July 12.
Aircraft lessors had moved the High Court seeking deregistration of their planes by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to take them back from the airline. The lessors had said it is "illegitimate" of the DGCA to deny deregistration.
The lessors' contention is that Go First has no right to use their aircraft as the leases concerning them have been terminated.
On the other hand, Go Air had said that the relief of deregistration of the aircrafts would effectively allow lessors to re-possess the aircrafts, which is expressly prohibited during the moratorium.
The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal on May 22 upheld the insolvency proceedings against Go First in a setback to efforts of its lessors to repossess their aircraft.
Upholding the NCLT's May 10 order, the appellate tribunal disposed of the lessors' petition and asked them to file an appeal before the NCLT.
The airline had approached the NCLT "due to the ever-increasing number of failing engines supplied by Pratt & Whitney's International Aero Engines, which has resulted in Go First (airline brand) having to ground 25 aircraft (equivalent to approximately 50 per cent of its Airbus A320neo aircraft fleet) as of May 1, 2023".
The low-cost airline stopped flying on May 3 and is undergoing voluntary insolvency resolution proceedings before the NCLT. Pertinently, on July 21, the DGCA granted approval to airline Go First's plan to resume operations, subject to specific conditions. A special safety audit was also conducted by the DGCA from 4 to 6 July.
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