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Contempt Plea On Non-Maintenance Of Aircraft: HC Asks Go First RP To File Affidavit

Justice Tara Vitasta Ganju made it clear that the orders of the court are required to be complied with in letter and spirit failing which further orders would need to be passed.

Delhi High Court
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The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked the Resolution Professional (RP) of crisis-hit Go First to file an affidavit on a plea by a lessor seeking contempt action against him for allegedly not complying with the court order to allow inspection and maintenance of aircraft.

Justice Tara Vitasta Ganju made it clear that the orders of the court are required to be complied with in letter and spirit failing which further orders would need to be passed.

The high court said the main assets in this case are the aircraft, and if they are not maintained, it is a problem and detriment to everybody.

“Let an affidavit be filed (by RP) by December 10. It is made clear that the orders of this court are required to be complied with in letter and spirit. List on December 12,” the judge said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by one of the lessors- DAE (SY 22) 13 Ireland Designated Activity Company- seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the RP for not complying with the court’s orders.

The plea said aircraft were not being maintained by the RP, documents needed were not being provided to them, and even inspections, as directed by the court, were not being allowed.

Several other lessors also raised similar issues orally.

The court is seized of several petitions by Go First's lessors seeking deregistration of their planes by aviation regulator DGCA so they could take them back from the airline.

During the hearing, senior advocate Kevic Setalvad, representing the lessor in the contempt plea, said in an earlier order of the court, it has been recorded that the RP will  maintain the aircraft. However, the condition of the airplanes leased to Go First was deteriorating in the absence of proper maintenance, Setalvad said.

“RP, who is seizing the aircraft, is supposed to protect but he is not doing so. No records are being given to us. The last record given to us is of May 9. These aircraft are  multi-million assets,” he argued.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing the RP, submitted he will file an affidavit giving details of the compliances made by them and also the difficulties they were facing.

He said he would like to examine the contempt petition and file a short affidavit on the issues raised. 

He contended that the airline is grounded and they are facing issues of manpower and finances.

The high court had on October 12 permitted the lessors to engage security personnel round-the-clock for protecting their aircraft lying idle for several months.

The court had also asked the Resolution Professional to share documents related to  maintenance of aircraft, engines and airframes with its lessors. It had passed an interim order on multiple applications by several lessors seeking maintenance of their aircraft.

The court had also restrained Go First and its representatives, and the RP appointed by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) from removing, replacing or taking out any part or components, or records of the 30 aircraft except with the prior written approval of the lessor of a particular airplane.

Earlier, The NCLT-appointed RP, tasked with managing Go First, had told the high court that returning aircraft to the lessors will render the airline, which has 7,000 employees to look after, "dead".

On May 10, the NCLT had admitted the airline’s voluntary insolvency resolution petition and appointed Abhilash Lal as the Interim RP to manage the carrier.

With a moratorium in force on financial obligations and transfer of assets of Go First in the wake of the insolvency resolution proceedings, the lessors are unable to deregister and take back the aircraft leased to the carrier.

The lessors had earlier told the high court that denial of deregistration by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was “illegitimate”.

The lessors who have approached the high court are: Accipiter Investments Aircraft 2 Limited, EOS Aviation 12 (Ireland) Limited, Pembroke Aircraft Leasing 11 Limited, SMBC Aviation Capital Limited, SFV Aircraft Holdings IRE 9 DAC Ltd, ACG Aircraft Leasing Ireland Ltd, DAE SY 22 13 Ireland Designated Activity Company and BOC Aviation (Ireland) Ltd.

Besides, GY Aviation Lease 1722 Co Ltd, Jackson Square Aviation Ireland Ltd, Sky High XCV Leasing Company Ltd, Star Rising Aviation 13 Ltd, Bluesky 31 Leasing Company Ltd and Bluesky 19 Leasing Company Ltd have also approached the high court.

On May 22, the NCLAT upheld the order of the Delhi-based principal bench of NCLT, which had admitted the plea of Go First to initiate voluntary insolvency resolution proceedings, and appointed an interim RP to suspend the company's board.

Several lessors approached the aviation regulator for deregistration and repossession of 45 planes they had leased to the carrier.

Go First has stopped flying since May 3.

-With PTI Input

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