M A I N   N E W S

Jet-Sahara row reaches SC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The legal battle between two leading private airlines — Jet Airways and Air Sahara — on their failed Rs 2,300-crore takeover deal reached the Supreme Court today with the former seeking the transfer of Sahara’s application for invoking arbitration proceedings from the court of Lucknow District Judge to the Bombay High Court.

On the other hand in its effort to preempt any possible ex parte interim order on Jet Airways’ transfer petition, Air Sahara filed a caveat in the apex court earlier in the day to ensure that it was given a chance to place its viewpoint before any decision was taken on it.

Adding another twist to the controversy, the government today hit out at Jet Airways for blaming it for delays in granting clearances and putting in place related policies.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told reporters here that a policy could “not be tailor-made to suit any particular airlines”.

Responding to queries, Mr Patel said policies were not made to suit any particular airline.

“If someone is dissatisfied, we cannot be held responsible,” he said adding that they were free to approach the Centre for clarification but the government was not answerable to anyone.

Jet has sought transfer of Sahara’s application for invoking arbitration proceeding from the Lucknow court to Bombay High Court on the ground that under the Arbitration Act only the jurisdiction of that court would prevail before which the application was first filed by any of the two contesting parties.

Jet Airways claimed that it was first to move the Bombay High Court for invoking the arbitration clause on its collapsed deal for takeover of Air Sahara before the extended deadline of June 21, apparently the High Court’s jurisdiction would prevail in the case now.

Jet has also sought to restrain Lucknow District Judge from going ahead with the hearing of the matter and further claimed that in the deal Mumbai was agreed upon to be the place for arbitration.

The caveat was filed by Sahara after Jet Airways yesterday announced that it would move the apex court for transfer of the case from Lucknow to Bombay.

While Sahara had moved the Lucknow court on June 21 for invoking arbitration clause, Jet had filed a similar petition in the Bombay High Court.

The Lucknow District Judge had restrained Jet Airways from withdrawing Rs 500 crore deposited by it in the escrow account with ICICI bank as a guarantee money. Besides, Rs 100 was advanced by Jet to Sahara in March as part of the agreement process.

The deal had failed because Jet Airways, largest private airliner in the country, had backed out as its Chairman Naresh Goyal claimed that Sahara Airways had evaluated its assets more than its actual value.

As per the agreement, Sahara was to refund the Rs 500 crore guarantee money to Jet Airways within seven days of the termination of the agreement and it was the bone of contention between the two airlines.

Meanwhile, Sahara today filed its set of objections in the Jet-Sahara case in a Lucknow court here.

The objections were filed in the court of officiating sessions judge K.K. Sharma.

District and Sessions Judge Shivcharan Sharma had on June 23 posted the case for hearing to June 30 and July 1 and asked Sahara to reply by today on the objection raised by Jet on the petition by Sahara India Commercial Corporation Limited under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.





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