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AI privatisation welcome but clear salary dues first: Pilots




New Delhi, Jun 25 : The proposal to privatise Air India is a welcome move but salary arrears should be settled first as promised earlier, feel pilots at the national carrier.

Facing tough financial conditions, Air India had resorted to salary cuts in 2012. Since then, arrears have been accumulating even as certain section of employees accepted revised pay scales.

The arrears to be paid to the 27,000-odd staff of Air India that includes pilots and cabin crew are estimated to be around Rs 1,200 crore. Out of the total amount, about Rs 400 crore is due for pilots, according to a senior pilot.

When Ashwani Lohani took over the reins of the ailing carrier nearly two years ago, he had assured that all pending dues would be paid in a phased manner.

Now, as the government looks at privatisation and other options to revive the airline, pilots want the salary dues to be cleared first before any decision is taken at the highest level amid uncertainty over the future course of action.

“We are looking forward to the privatisation of Air India. We are very pleased by this news and we hope that a professional management takes over. We want to work in an environment where there isn’t too much government interference,” a representative of the Indian Pilots’ Guild said.

Before privatisation happens, “our dues have to be cleared,” he said.

The Guild, comprising pilots of wide-bodied aircraft, has around 500 members.

Echoing similar sentiments, a representative of Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) said having a professional management could help in the airline’s revival.

“If Air India is going to be privatised then we will take up the issue of our dues,” he said.

The ICPA, which claims to have more than 1,000 members, represents the pilots of narrow-bodied planes.

According to the pilots, if the government privatises the airline they would like to start on a “clean slate” rather than just “outsourcing the current problems” such as salary arrears to the new investor.

“This is a problem created by the management and they have to first resolve the issue,” the pilot from IPG said.

While discussions are still at initial stages on the way forward for the debt-laden Air India, sections of employees seem to be on different pages when it comes to the idea of privatisation.

Earlier this month, seven unions of Air India employees warned of large scale protests if the government went ahead with privatisation of the airline.

The government think tank NITI Aayog has suggested complete privatisation of the airline, which has a debt burden of over Rs 52,000 crore.

The ministry of civil aviation is looking at ways to revive Air India, which is surviving on Rs 30,000 crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA regime.


SC to decide if politicians facing criminal charges can be barred from polls



Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Sep 25 : The Supreme Court will on Tuesday pronounce its verdict on whether chargesheeted lawmakers should be disqualified from contesting elections even before their conviction in criminal cases and whether an MP or MLA who is also a lawyer can be allowed to perform the dual role.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is to deliver its verdict on a batch of petitions filed in 2011 by NGO Public Interest Foundation and Delhi BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay among others which demanded debarring politicians facing serious criminal charges in order to de-criminalise Indian politics. It had reserved the verdict on the issue on August 28.

The Bench includes Justice RF Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra.

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court during the hearing that the judiciary cannot get into law-making, which is reserved for the legislature.He also opposed suggestions that a person who is chargesheeted could be barred from contesting polls as, under the Indian law, there is presumption of innocence unless proven guilty.

Venugopal had told the Bench that Article 102 provided for Parliament to make law on the issue and hence the top court should leave it to the wisdom of the parliamentarians. He had reminded the Bench of the concept of separation of powers.

”Everybody understands that. We cannot direct Parliament to make a law. The question is what we can do to stem the rot,” the Bench had commented.

Advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, appearing for NGO has claimed there were 34 per cent lawmakers with criminal background in 2014 and alleged it was quite “impossible” that the parliament will make any law to restrict their run.

The court may direct Election Commission to ask every member of a political party to declare if they have any case against them.

“That will not disqualify them from being a member of the party but will help people know how many members of the party have criminal cases against them. When these people want to contest, they will not get symbols,” the court had said.

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Fuel prices continue to rise, Petrol at Rs 90.22/litre in Mumbai



Petrol Price

New Delhi, Sep 25: The fuel prices continued to hit new highs on Tuesday, as petrol is being sold at Rs 90.22 per litre and diesel is retailed at Rs 78.69 per litre in Mumbai. 

While in Delhi, a litre of petrol has touched Rs 82.86 per litre and diesel is priced at Rs 74.12 per litre.

On Monday, the petrol price in Mumbai crossed the Rs 90-run mark.

Yesterday, in Patna petrol was reportedly sold at Rs 91.96/litre , the highest price in the country and diesel at Rs 79.68/litre.

According to the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), a litre of petrol in Bengaluru is being capped at Rs 83.37, in Hyderabad Rs 87.84, in Lucknow Rs 85.25, in Chennai Rs 86.13 and in Kolkata Rs 84.68.

In the meantime, Diesel price has reached Rs 74.40 a litre in Bengaluru, Rs 74.25/litre in Lucknow, Rs 80.62/litre in Hyderabad, Rs 78.36/litre in Chennai and Rs 75.97/litre in Kolkata.

As fuel prices have been witnessing steep hike since the past few weeks, the Opposition party has repeatedly blamed the Narendra Modi government for not taking effective measures to keep a check on fuel price hike.


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4.7 magnitude Earthquake hits Assam’s Barpeta




New Delhi, Sep 25: An earthquake with magnitude 4.7 on the Richter Scale hit Assam’s Barpeta on Tuesday morning.


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