NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today pulled up one of the lawyers appearing for AirAsia India and Vistara airlines for terming BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's arguments for suspending their flying licences as a "publicity stunt".
While the BJP leader responded to the comment by saying he has "no lack of publicity", a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar disapproved of the conduct after which the woman lawyer apologised. "We do not approve of such conduct in our court. You cannot make such comments merely because he is a public figure," the bench said.
The remarks by the bench came when during the hearing the lawyer, who was appearing for one of the two private airlines, said the points that Swamy was making were for publicity.
Swamy was arguing that the flying licences granted to the carriers, which are joint ventures of Tata Group with Malaysia based AirAsia Berhad and Singapore Airlines, were in violation of the government's policy on foreign investment. He said that according to the policy, foreign investment was allowed only in existing airlines and was not meant for floating or starting a new airline, like Vistara and AirAsia India.
The BJP leader also alleged that there were questionable transactions in connection with the setting up of AirAsia India.
Apart from Swamy, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which is a group of private airlines like Jet Airways, Indigo, Spicejet and GoAir, has also challenged the flying licences granted to AirAsia India and Vistara.
FIA alleged, during the proceedings, that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was "deliberately turning a blind eye" to the issue.
The lawyers for Vistara and AirAsia, meanwhile, contended that none of the other private airlines' business has been put at risk with the entry of these two entities. They also claimed that all the other airlines' businesses have been growing, a submission which was disputed by FIA and Swamy.
After hearing the brief arguments of all the parties, the bench asked Swamy and FIA to file their written submissions and asked the two airlines to respond to it before the next date of hearing on November 16.
Malaysia's largest budget-carrier AirAsia had set up the joint venture, AirAsia India, with the Tata Group and Telestra Tradeplace to launch the regional airline in India.
Vistara is a joint venture between Tata Group and Singapore Airlines and is a full service airline.