New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a plea of a pilots' body of erstwhile domestic carrier Indian Airlines seeking parity with their counterparts at Air India.

"The order is reserved and will be pronounced on Friday (May, 4), Justice Suresh Kait said after hearing arguments on behalf of lawyers of ICPA (Indian Commercial Pilots Association, Air India and the Ministry of Civil Aviation on the petition of the pilots' body.

Earlier, ICPA had moved the high court alleging that it has not been dealt with "at a par" with Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), an association of pilots of Air India.
Seeking parity in training, the pilots’ body, in its plea, alleged the commanders (head pilot) of basic aircraft of former Indian Airlines have not been considered by Air India management for training of commander of advanced aircraft like Boeing 747, 787 and 777.

However, even co-pilots of Air India were considered for the training of advanced aircraft ahead of Indian Airlines commanders, ICPA said.

Lalit Bhasin, counsel for Air India, said the management of the national carrier was willing to impart training for flying advanced aircraft to pilots of both ICPA and the IPG.

"One each from ICPA and the IPG can be trained at a time for flying Boeing 747 and 787 aircraft. However, the pilots of ICPA cannot be trained to fly Boeing 777 as the training process for this category was over," Bhasin said, adding that these are policy decisions and cannot be interfered with by the courts.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Civil Aviation told the court that it may implement the recommendations of the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee, instituted in November last to look into grievances of ICPA, within 45 to 60 days.

During the hearing, the counsel for pilots' body said the courts cannot be asked to keep away on the grounds that these (training of pilots) issues are policy matters.

"The Air India management is not waiting for the recommendations and implementation thereof of the Justice Dharmadhikari committee and is going ahead with the training programme. But it (Air India) wants that the courts should keep away from such issues," the ICPA said.

Recently, a three-member committee has been formed to look into the implementation aspect of the Justice Dharmadhikari committee report on the issue.

Earlier, the court had asked the Aviation Ministry to file a report detailing actions taken to address the grievances of the ICPA.

Air India, which operates flights to offshore destinations and India Airlines were merged into one entity in 2007.

Earlier, the Civil Aviation Ministry had objected to the plea of ICPA saying the government has decided to invest public money to revive Air India and "the carrier cannot be allowed to suffer because of the pilots' bodies (ICPA and IPG)".

On May 6 last year, ICPA had called off a 10-day strike after the government had assured them that their demands of pay parity and other grievances would be considered by the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee by November.

(Agencies)