Low cost airline Spicejet has been pulled up by a Delhi court for being "vindictive" towards one of its former pilots who had filmed a co-pilot smoking in the cockpit and triggered a national debate.
Additional District Judge Ajay Goel made the observation while deciding a Spicejet Limited's suit against its former pilot Siddharth Kasana seeking reimbursement of Rs 18.53 lakh as cost incurred by it in training him after he quit from the service of the airlines before the five-year lock-in period.
"It seems the plaintiff (Spicejet) became vindictive towards the defendant (Kasana) because of the misconduct of another pilot which created national debate and outrage on the conduct of the pilot caught smoking while flying the aircraft which also resulted in diminishing their reputation whereby they were bent upon destroying the career of the defendant," he said.
The airline had alleged that Kasana left the job before the lock-in period and the cheque given by him as security at the time of his appointment in 2006 were dishonoured for insufficient funds.
Kasana on the other hand had claimed that he was forced to resign as he had filmed his co-pilot smoking in the cockpit and sparked a nationwide debate over the issue.
The court noted Kasana was willing to work with the firm but was forced to resign as his video of a co-pilot smoking in the cockpit had diminished its reputation.
In his reply to the averments made by Spicejet, Kasana had filed a CD of a news telecast showing the video made by him of his senior co-pilot smoking onboard the flight.
After watching the video, the court said, "It is very strange that plaintiff (Spicejet) never took any decision against pilot who was smoking in the cockpit and made defendant (Kasana) a scapegoat.
"It is a shame on the part of the airline that instead of taking prompt action against the erring pilot, they were more interested in saving their reputation and fame keeping the lives of passengers at stake. If the defendant had dared to use mobile, it was for the benefit of passengers and to expose the irrational behaviour of pilot on board," it said.
While deciding the matter against Spicejet, the court also questioned as to "how did the pilot manage to have cigarettes and lighter in the cockpit by giving slip to the security personnel."
The court directed the DGCA, Civil Aviation Ministry to look into the matter and apprise it of action taken in the matter against Banerjee within a month.
"It is crystal clear that there was no violation on behalf of Kasana in any terms and conditions of the appointment and in fact the defendant was forced to resign from plaintiff company as he had exposed the pilot (who was smoking in the cockpit) and Kasana is not liable to pay any amount and the cheque in question could not be got encahsed by Spicejet," it said.