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ModiLuft plan to fly high hits air pocket

New Delhi, May 8: The Supreme Court has revoked the no-objection-certificate (NOC) granted provisionally to ModiLuft by the government on an order of the Delhi High Court.

Allowing an appeal of the government, a bench comprising Justice N. Santosh Hegde, Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice B. P. Singh said the high court could not have granted a final relief through an interim order and added, “The NOC, which is said to have been issued provisionally, stands revoked.” With the NOC revoked, ModiLuft will not be able to resume airline operations in the near future.

The apex court, while setting aside the interim order, directed the high court to hear the matter and give a final judgement without being influenced by the observations made in this order.

Appearing for the Centre, attorney general Soli Sorabjee contended that the relief granted by the high court, though interim in nature, was beyond the ambit of the writ petition itself, apart from being in the nature of final relief.

The bone of contention between the government and ModiLuft was that the airline was collecting inland air travel tax from its passengers as an agent of the government but had not deposited the same. This led to the government detaining aircraft of the airline which were leased from Air UK Leasing Ltd (AUL). AUL later deposited Rs 12.5 crore with the government to take the aircraft out of India.

The high court had directed the airline to pay to the customs authorities a sum of Rs 50 lakh per month for an initial period of six months and thereafter a sum of Rs 70 lakh per month for a further period of six months. It had also directed the government to issue NOC to ModiLuft subject to the airline complying with the schedule of payment.

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