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Swamy missile hits Jet-Etihad deal

New Delhi, Oct 8 (): Swamy’s petition to the Supreme Court led to it to ask the Centre, aviation, commercial and finance ministry and related departments respond to a petition seeking a stay on the Jet-Etihad Airways tie-up. The reply must be filed in four weeks’ time. The court refused to pass any interim order till the Centre filed the responses.

Chief justice Ranjan Gopal and Sathasivam were hearing the case. The court noted that the Prime Minister had not replied to a representation on this issue made by Swamy. The court said that after a detailed one-hour study of the petition, it decided to seek a reply.

Swamy submitted that the deal was squandering of the sky and the air space of the nation and is against the public interest. The Parliamentary Select Committee and other bodies including the CAG found that there has been indiscriminate allocation of air space to foreign airlines.

Nine central government bodies have been cited as respondents apart from Jet and Etihad. Jet struck 24 percent equity sale to Etihad Airways for about Rs 2,058 crore. Swamy sought a direction to set aside and revoke permissions by the authorities. Swamy sought a CBI probe into the deal and the officials who cleared it.

Opposition MPs have been demanding the cancellation of the deal and questioned the haste in giving clearance. PM’s office then asked the aviation ministry to put up a note before the cabinet prior to clearing the deal. The note was later cleared by the cabinet. The controversy is the timing of the deal.

One day before the deal was signed, the aviation ministry cleared the proposal to enhance the number of flights in Abu Dhabi- India sector. The next day Etihad picked up the stake. This bilateral agreement would favour Etihad and do harm to Air India. In the Etihad deal, Jet sold its slot in Heathrow airport which again is said to be given to the country and not to the airline.

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