The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s (NCLAT) order directing the payment of provident fund and gratuity dues of the Jet Airway’s former employees.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, said: “Anyone stepping in would know that there are overriding labour dues. Unpaid labour dues always take precedence.”
The apex court order has come as a setback to the Jalan-Fritsch consortium, new owners of the cash-strapped Jet Airways.
The bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala said that, somewhere, there has to be finality and added that it will not interfere with the NCLAT order.
The consortium’s counsel submitted that an additional Rs 200 crore would be required and it would become difficult for the revival of the airline, and further added that the resolution plan, once approved, cannot be either taken back or modified.
Senior advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar and advocate Swarnendu Chatterjee, represented the Association of Aggrieved Workmen of Jet Airways (AAWJA), which comprised 270 former employees of the airline. The employees had resigned on or after the carrier’s insolvency commencement date and they had filed a caveat before the top court.
The apex court declined to entertain the plea moved by the consortium and upheld the NCLAT’s order. After the hearing, Chatterjee told the media that the order is a ray of hope for all such workmen and employees who are entangled in these types of litigation.
According to the consortium, the information memorandum did not disclose any liabilities of the corporate debtor (Jet Airways) towards the provident fund and gratuity dues in full.
In October last year, the NCLAT had directed the consortium to pay the gratuity dues and the provident fund dues of the employees of the airline.
The successful resolution applicants for Jet Airways (India) Ltd had moved the apex court challenging the NCLAT order.