The promotion of a senior Air India pilot as a member of the national carrier's Board was challenged on Tuesday in the Delhi High Court by a pilots' association, as he was earlier suspended from flying for not taking an alcohol test.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to the Centre, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Air India seeking their replies by April 26 on the plea against the appointment of Captain Arvind Kathpalia as a Director to the Board of the airline.
The court also asked Air India and DGCA to place on record the action they have taken in the past against others in such situations.
It also asked them to bring the report of the internal enquiry carried out against the senior pilot by a panel of three doctors.
The promotion of Kathpalia, whose flying licence was suspended till May 7, as Director (Operations) in the Air India Board was approved by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet after the DGCA suspended him from flying for three months on February 15 this year.
The flying licence of the senior pilot was suspended for allegedly skipping a mandatory pre-flight medical test in January this year.
According to the petitioners, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the pilot allegedly intimidated the doctor who had said that no pre-flight test was done to withdraw his statement.
The petitioners have alleged that in Kathpalia's case, there has been no statutory disciplinary proceeding as provided under the rules and also followed in all other cases.
"Why are they bending over backwards for this one pilot", senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, appearing for ICPA, said.
He contended that even penal action is taken against the pilot for a repeat of such conduct, but nothing has been done in the instant case.
Singhvi questioned how such a person can be appointed to the Board where he would be dealing with discipline and monitoring of other pilots and flight crew when his own conduct was like this.
Air India and DGCA said that action has been taken against the pilot as per the rules.
They said that since the pilot had skipped the test once, his flying licence was suspended for three months, as per the rules.