New Delhi, May 3 The Delhi High Court Tuesday appointed senior advocate Sidharth Luthra amicus curiae to assist in the impasse between the Air India management and its striking pilots, now in the seventh day, and asked the two sides to "put an end" to it.
The observations sought by the amicus curiae, literally meaning friend of the court in Latin, will be on point of law and it will be the up to the bench to decide whether or not to admit such information while adjudicating the case.
A two-member bench of the Delhi High Court Monday started hearing criminal contempt proceedings against the office bearers of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the union that has called the strike, for ignoring a stay order on the agitation.
"You are causing loss to the nation. Tell us who will pay this bill," the bench of Justice B.D Ahmed and Justice Veena Birbal asked both the management and the office bearers of the striking union.
"By disrupting the life of our citizens, you are causing a great loss to the nation and the citizens both. This loss has now to be taken from the tax-payer. Citizens will have to pay doubly."
The bench said neither the management nor the pilots were coming out with a solution. The bench asked if the pilots were willing to withdraw and added: "Management also does not want the strike to end."
Justice Ahmed and Justice Birbal further said: "The management can`t be dishonest with the people. If they do so, we are here to take care of it. We are looking at the larger issue. Put (an) end to it."
As the strike entered the seventh day, Air India was forced to cancel 165 flights in the domestic and regional overseas sectors, even though it said all its 45 long-haul flights to the US, Europe and Japan, among other destinations, were to operate as per schedule.
The flag carrier has some 1,600 pilots on its rolls and operates some 320 flights daily.
To secure public support, the management Tuesday released advertisements in some papers even questioning if the strike was justified.
"Majority of them (pilots) draw over Rs.3.88 lakh per month and up to Rs.7 lakh per month, besides other benefits, including free passages," the state-run airline said in the advertisement.
"Over 10,000 esteemed passengers (are) stranded daily. Over 40,000 inconvenienced so far," said the airline. "Should financially critical Air India, on government support, succumb to such blackmail?"
The airline has also decided not to pay the striking pilots during the duration of their stir and withdraw the free passage on the airline's flights given to them and their families, sources in the carrier said.