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AIR INDIA CABIN CREW ASSN=whether the promotional avenues and other terms of =In our view, once an employee is placed in the Executive cadre, he ceases to be a workman and also ceases to be governed by Settlements arrived at between the Management and the workmen through the concerned Trade Union. It is not a question of an attempt made by such employees to wriggle out of the Settlements which had been arrived at prior to their elevation to the Executive cadre, which, by operation of law, cease to have any binding force on the employee so promoted by the Management. 51. We are not, therefore, inclined to interfere with the orders passed in the several writ petitions, out of which the present appeals arise, and the same are, accordingly, dismissed.

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REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.9857-9861 OF 2011

(Arising out of SLP(C)Nos.20668-20672 of 2007)

AIR INDIA CABIN CREW ASSN. & ORS. … APPELLANTS

Vs.

UNION OF INDIA & ORS. … RESPONDENTS

WITH

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.9862-9865 OF 2011

(Arising out of SLP(C)Nos.20679-20682 of 2007)

AND

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.9866-9871 OF 2011

(Arising out of SLP(C)Nos.20773-20778 of 2007)

2

J U D G M E N T

ALTAMAS KABIR, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. Special Leave Petitions (Civil) Nos.20668-20672

of 2007, Special Leave Petitions (Civil) Nos.20679-

20682 of 2007 and Special Leave Petitions (Civil)

Nos.20773-20778 of 2007, have been taken up

together for hearing and final disposal, inasmuch

as, the facts in the several matters are the same,

and the law involved is also the same. For the

sake of convenience, we shall narrate the facts

from Special Leave Petitions (Civil) Nos.20668-

20672 of 2007, which have been filed by the Air

India Cabin Crew Association and two others.

3. The common issue in all these matters is

whether the promotional avenues and other terms of

3

service of the pre-1997 cadre of Assistant Flight

Pursers could be changed to their prejudice despite

the provisions of the Air Corporation (Transfer of

Undertakings and Repeal) Act, 1994 and, in

particular, Section 8 thereof and also in view of

the judgments of this Court in Air India Vs.

Nergesh Meerza & Ors. [(1981) 4 SCC 335], and Air

India Cabin Crew Assn. Vs. Yeshaswinee Merchant &

Ors. [(2003) 6 SCC 277], along with the various

agreements and settlement arrived at between the

parties. The further question that arises is

whether in the circumstances indicated, a policy

decision of gender neutralization, which was

prospective in nature, could be applied

retrospectively to the pre-1997 cadre of Pursers

and whether such application would be arbitrary and

contrary to the provisions of Articles 14, 19 and

21 of the Constitution, as it upsets certain rights

4

relating to promotion which had vested in Assistant

Flight Pursers belonging to the pre-1997 cadre.

4. In order to appreciate the case made out by the

appellants in these appeals, it is necessary to set

out briefly some of the facts leading to the filing

of the several writ petitions before the Delhi High

Court.

5. According to the appellants, for several

decades two distinct cadres have been existing in

Air India Corporation, comprising male Air Flight

Pursers and female Air Hostesses, each with their

own terms and conditions of service, including

promotional avenues. In 1980, one Nergesh Meerza

and four other Air Hostesses filed Writ Petition

No.1186 of 1980 in the Bombay High Court,

questioning the constitutional validity of

Regulation 46(i)(c) of the Air India Employees’

Service Regulations and raising certain other

5

questions of law. Air India, being the Respondent

No.1 therein, moved a transfer petition, being

Transfer Case No.3 of 1981, for transfer of the

writ petitions from the Bombay High Court to this

Court on the ground that several writ petitions

filed by Air India were pending before this Court

and also on account of the fact that other writ

petitions had also been filed by the Air Hostesses

employed by the Indian Airlines Corporation,

hereinafter referred to as “IAC”, which were also

pending in this Court involving almost identical

reliefs. Even in the said case, which was

transferred to this Court, it was observed that

from a comparison of the method of recruitment and

the promotional avenues available, Air Hostesses

formed an absolutely separate category from that of

Assistant Flight Pursers in many respects, having

different grades, different promotional avenues and

different service conditions.

6

6. At this stage, it may be necessary to give a

little further background regarding Indian Airlines

Corporation and Air India Limited established under

Section 6 of the Air Corporations Act, 1953.

Subsequently, Indian Airlines Limited and Air India

Limited were formed and registered under the

Companies Act, 1956. In 1994, the Air Corporations

(Transfer of Undertakings and Repeal) Act, 1994,

hereinafter referred to as “1994 Act”, was enacted

to provide for the transfer and vesting of the

undertakings of Indian Airlines and Air India

respectively to and in the companies formed and

registered as Indian Airlines Limited and Air India

Limited and also to repeal the Air Corporations

Act, 1953. Section 3 of the 1994 Act provided for

the vesting and transfer of the undertaking of

Indian Airlines in Indian Airlines Limited and the

undertaking of Air India in Air India Limited.

7

Section 8 of the 1994 Act also specified that every

officer or other employee of the Corporations,

except the Director of the Board, Chairman,

Managing Director or any other person entitled to

manage the whole or a substantial part of the

business and affairs of the Corporation serving in

its employment immediately before the appointed day

(1st April, 1994) would, in so far as such officer

or other employee were concerned, become as from

the appointed day, an officer or other employee, as

the case may be, of the company in which the

undertaking had vested and would hold his office or

service therein for the same tenure, at the same

remuneration and upon the same terms and conditions

of service. He would be entitled to the same

obligations, rights and privileges as to leave,

passage, insurance, superannuation scheme,

provident fund, other funds of retirement, pension,

gratuity and other benefits as he would have held

8

under the Corporation if its undertaking had not

vested in the Company, with the option of not

becoming an officer or other employee of the

Company.

7. The dispute regarding the distinction between

Assistant Flight Pursers and Air Hostesses resulted

in a Record Note signed on 30th May, 1977, by the

Air India Cabin Crew Association and Air India

Limited, which noticed differences between the

functional designation of In-Flight Crew and actual

designation and also permitted female Executive Air

Hostesses to fly. After the decision in Nergesh

Meerza’s case, on 17th November, 1983, a further

Record Note was entered into between the aforesaid

Association and Air India Limited, which introduced

avenues of promotion for Air Hostesses. It was

provided that the avenues of promotion for Air

Hostesses would be through the categories of Senior

9

Check Air Hostess, Deputy Check Air Hostess and

Additional Chief Air Hostess to Chief Air Hostess.

It was also indicated that as far as male Assistant

Flight Pursers, comprising Flight Pursers and In-

Flight Supervisors were concerned, they would

continue to be unaffected and the hierarchy on

board the aircraft for various categories would

remain as was then existing and there would be no

change in the job functions of any category of

cabin crew on account of the said agreement. What

is evident from the said Record Note is that the

separate and distinct cadres of male and female

Cabin Crew were continued in respect of promotional

avenues, hierarchy and job functions on board an

aircraft.

8. Subsequently, on 5th June, 1997, a settlement

was arrived at between the appellants and Air India

that all earlier settlements, awards, past

10

practices, record notes and understandings arrived

at between the erstwhile Corporation and the

appellant Association, would continue. Immediately

after the signing of the said Memorandum of

Settlement, on the very same day Air India Limited

issued a promotion policy for all the Cabin Crew

members, but treated the pre-1997 and post-1997

crew separately. By a specific clause, the said

promotion policy amended the existing promotional

avenues for the male Cabin Crew to that of In-

Flight Supervisors and female Cabin Crew to the

post of Senior Check Air Hostesses recruited prior

to the settlement. The said promotion policy kept

the promotional avenues in the two streams of male

Cabin Crew and female Cabin Crew, recruited prior

to 1997, separate.

9. It may be of interest to note that there was a

distinct division among the Air Hostesses, the

11

majority of whom belonging to “workmen” category,

numbering about 684 at the relevant time, were

members of the Air India Cabin Crew Association.

When the revised promotion policy for Cabin crew

was brought into effect from 7th June, 1997, a small

number of about 53 Air Hostesses, who were about 50

years of age, including those promoted to executive

cadres for ground duties or who were at the verge

of retirement from flying duties, formed an

association in the name of Air India Air Hostesses’

Association. The Association unsuccessfully

challenged the binding effects of the Settlement of

5th June, 1997, in the Bombay High Court, but got

itself impleaded as a party in a pending Reference

before the National Industrial Tribunal and raised

the issues of merger and interchangeability of job

functions between the male and female Cabin Crew

members. Despite opposition from the appellant

Association, which represented 684 out of 1138 Air

12

Hostesses of Air India, the High Court accepted the

conditional proposal of merger of cadres of male

and female members of Cabin Crew and held that Air

Hostesses were also entitled to retire at the age

of 58 years from flying duties on par with Flight

Pursers and other members of the cabin crew. The

High Court held that the age of retirement from

flying duties of Air Hostesses at and up to the age

of 50 years with option to them to accept ground

duties after 50 and up to the age of 58 years

amounted to discrimination against them based on

sex, which was violative of Articles 14, 15 and 16

of the Constitution, as also Section 5 of the Equal

Remuneration Act, 1976. It was further held that

the two cadres of male and female Cabin Crew

members came to be merged only after 1997 and such

merger applied to fresh recruits and the conditions

of service and distinction between the two cadres

would continue with regard to the existing Cabin

13

Staff up to the year 1997.

10. The aforesaid promotion policy separated the

promotional avenues for male Cabin Crew and female

Cabin Crew recruited prior to 1997 as a separate

and distinct class, as was also observed in

Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case (supra). According to

the appellants, the Union of India, by its

directive dated 21st November, 2003, attempted to

over-reach the judgment of this Court in

Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case (supra), wherein, the

directives dated 16th October, 1989 and 29th

December, 1989, were to become inoperative after

the Repeal Act of 1994. Thereafter, on 18th

December, 2003, in terms of the directive of 21st

November, 2003, the Respondent No.2 came out with

an Office Order of even date, wherein, it was,

inter alia, indicated that with the flying age of

female Cabin Crew having been brought at par with

14

the male Cabin Crew, the issue of seniority and

promotion would have to be addressed by the

Department so that there was no resentment among

the categories of employees. Liberty was given to

the In-Flight Service Department to assign flight

duties to such Air Hostesses, who may have been

grounded at the age of 50 years. On 30th December

2003, the Respondent No.2 addressed a letter to the

Air Hostesses informing them that in keeping with

the directions received from the Respondent No.1,

it had been decided by the management to allow them

to fly up to the age of 58 years, though, of

course, such decision would be without prejudice to

the proceedings pending before the National

Industrial Tribunal at Mumbai. Thereafter, by

subsequent letters, the Respondent No.2 wrote to

the appellant Association that on the issue of

service conditions, the management was aware of the

various Agreements, Awards and Judgments and it was

15

re-emphasized that the two cadres were not being

merged and the service conditions of the male and

female Cabin crew continued to be separate and

distinct in terms of the Agreements and judgments

passed in respect thereof.

11. However, in contrast to the correspondence on

27th December, 2005, the Respondent No.2, in total

disregard of the Record Notes, Memorandum of

Settlement and the judgments of this Court in

Nergesh Meerza’s case and in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s

case (supra), issued an administrative order

bringing female Cabin crew and the male Cabin Crew

at par in respect of age of retirement.

Accordingly, Air Hostesses were also permitted to

fly up to the age of 58 years. In the said order

it was also indicated that after the promulgation

of the order, the Executive Female Cabin Crew would

be eligible to be considered for the position of

16

In-Flight Supervisor along with the Executive Male

Cabin Crew. It was, however, clarified that the

number of Executive Cabin Crew to be designated as

In-Flight Supervisors would be based on operational

requirements of the company.

12. On the promulgation of the said order, the

appellant Association made a representation to the

Chairman and Managing Director of the Respondent

No.2 on 28th December, 2005, pointing out that the

same was contrary to the judgments of this Court.

Since the appellant Association did not receive any

response to its representation, it filed Writ

Petition (C) Nos.983-987 of 2006, before the Delhi

High Court on 21st January, 2006, complaining that

the orders passed were arbitrary, illegal and

contrary to the various decisions of this Court.

The said writ petitions, along with various

connected matters, came up for consideration before

17

the Division Bench of the High Court on 30th

January, 2006. After impleading Air India Air

Hostesses Association and the Air India Executive

Air Hostesses Association as respondents in the

writ petition on the ground that they were likely

to be affected by any order which may be passed in

the pending proceedings, the appellant Association

filed its Rejoinder Affidavit to the Counter

Affidavits filed by the Respondent Nos.1, 2 and 3

and denied the claim of the respondents that the

posts of Flight Supervisors had been abolished by

the promotion policy of 1997 and that the male and

female cadres of the Cabin Crew recruited prior to

1997, had been merged. Before the Division Bench

of the High Court, both the parties appeared to

have clarified their stand that the merger of

Indian Airlines with Air India did not in any

manner affect the existing settlements and

agreements. Ultimately, on 8th October, 2007, the

18

Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the writ

petitions filed by the appellant Association. By

the said judgment, the Division Bench of the High

Court rejected the challenge of the appellant

Association to the constitutional validity of

Section 9 of the Air Corporation (Transfer of

Undertakings) Act, 1994, though, on the ground of

laches. The other challenge to the impugned

directive issued by the management on 21st November,

2003, was also not accepted. More importantly, for

our purpose in these cases, the Division Bench of

the High Court held that the expression “In-Flight

Supervisor” is, in fact, a description of a job

function and is not a post exclusively reserved for

the male Cabin crew.

13. As mentioned hereinabove, these appeals are

directed against the said decision of the Division

Bench of the High Court of Delhi.

19

14. Appearing for the appellant Association and the

other appellants in SLP(C)Nos.20668-20672 of 2007

(Now appeals), Mr. Pramod B. Agarwala, learned

Advocate for the appellants in SLP(C)Nos. 20679-

20682 of 2007, contended that the Appellant No.1,

Association, is a registered trade union under the

Trade Unions Act and represents the largest number

of Cabin Crew in the country, both prior to and

after 1997 of both Air India and the former Indian

Airlines. Learned counsel contended that the said

Association is the sole recognized union for

collective bargaining in respect of the Cabin Crew,

such as Air Hostess and Flight Purser cadres. He

submitted that the said Association represented

more than 1480 Cabin Crew in Air India and more

than 350 of their members were pre-1997 Air

Hostesses and, approximately, 360 were pre-1997

Flight Pursers. The Executive Cabin Crew members

20

are represented by the Air India Officers

Association, as also the Air India Executive Cabin

Crew Association. It was contended by Mr. Agarwala

that none of the other trade unions are recognized

or registered trade unions.

15. Mr. Agarwala submitted that the challenge to

the directive issued by the Central Government on

21st November, 2003, had been wrongly interpreted by

the management of Air India as facilitating the

breach of binding Settlements, Agreements and

Record Notes. The management of Air India also

appears to have taken the position that the

directive issued by the Central Government on 21st

November, 2003, freed it from the directions

contained in the decision of this Court in

Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case (supra). Mr. Agarwala

submitted that the decision in these appeals would

depend on the answers to the following questions :

21

(a) Whether the decision of this Court in

Nergesh Meerza’s case and Yeshaswinee

Merchant’s case (supra), could be

nullified by an order of the Civil

Aviation Ministry issued under Section

9 of the Air Corporation (Repeal and

Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1994,

and also whether the same could set

aside the various Record Notes,

Settlements and Agreements entered

into by Air India with the appellant

Association?; and

(b) Did the post of In-Flight Supervisor

stand abolished by the promulgation of

the promotion policy of 5th June, 1997?

22

16. Referring to the judgment of the High Court,

Mr. Agarwala submitted that three issues were

framed for adjudication, namely,

(i) What is the effect of the judgments

of the Supreme Court in Nargesh

Meerza’s case (supra) and in the

case of Yeshaswinee Merchant (supra)

on the validity of the impugned

orders and directives?;

(ii) Is the position of an In-Flight

Supervisor a job function or a post

and how does the same affect the

claim of male Cabin Crew in the

Flight Purser cadre to an exclusive

right to be appointed to such a

position?

23

(iii)Are the impugned circulars and

orders rendered invalid either on

account of procedural violations

and/or on the grounds of

discrimination, arbitrariness or

irrationality and do they violate

any previous settlements and

agreements?

17. Mr. Agarwala submitted that the High Court had

misunderstood the decisions rendered by this Court

and had proceeded on an erroneous assumption that

Flight Pursers were claiming benefits only for the

male Cabin Crew.

18. Mr. Agarwala submitted that in the two cases

referred to hereinabove, the relevant findings are

that on a comparison of the mode of recruitment,

the classification, the promotional avenues and

other matters which had been discussed, it was

24

clear that Air Hostesses formed a separate category

from that of Air Flight Pursers, having different

grades, different promotional avenues and different

service conditions, but no discrimination had been

made between Flight Pursers and Air Hostesses,

although their service conditions may have been

different. It was also held that the post of In-

Flight Supervisor belongs to the Flight Purser

cadre. While considering the fact that the

retirement age of Air Hostesses was 58 years, Air

Hostesses were prohibited from flying beyond the

age of 50 years. What was also established was

that there could be no interchangeability of

functions between the two cadres, unless the same

was introduced by way of settlement between the

appellant Association and the management of Air

India. Mr. Agarwala submitted that all these issues

had been considered by this Court in the light of

the various Agreements, Settlements and Awards

25

entered into by Air India with the appellant

Association in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case and once

such an exercise had been undertaken by this Court,

it was no longer open to the High Court to

undertake a fresh exercise on the decided issues.

19. Mr. Agarwala further contended that the

findings of this Court could not be negated by a

mere directive issued by the Government under

Section 9 of the 1994 Act. The said directive of

21st November, 2003, merely directs Air India to

allow the female Cabin crew to perform flying

duties up to the age of 58 years in the interest of

operations and in view of the exigencies of

circumstances. Mr. Agarwala submitted that by

issuing such an administrative order, on 27th

December, 2005, Air India was not only seeking to

nullify the judgments of this Court, but also the

26

binding settlements which had been arrived at

between the parties.

20. On the question as to whether the abolition of

a post could be implied or whether it has to be an

explicit arrangement through a bilateral settlement

or a Court order, learned counsel submitted that,

although, it had been Air India’s stand that the

post of In-Flight Supervisor stood abolished under

the 1997 promotion policy, the same is not

reflected either in the said policy or the

settlement. In fact, except for placing on record

a seniority list as on 1994 and 1998, no other

material had been disclosed to establish the fact

that the posts of In-Flight Supervisors had been

abolished. Mr. Agarwala repeated his submission

that it had been admitted by Air India that the

post of In-Flight Supervisor was meant exclusively

for the Flight Purser cadre, since their

27

promotional avenue and/or any change in their

service conditions could only be brought about

through a bilateral settlement with the appellant

Association. Mr. Agarwala pointed out that in

Nergesh Meerza’s case this Court had observed that

it was unable to understand how the management

could phase out the posts available to the Air

Hostesses exclusively at the instance of Pursers

when they had no concern with the said post nor did

they have any right to persuade the management to

abolish a post which had been meant for them. This

Court went on to observe that since the decision

had been taken as far back as in 1977 and no

grievance had been made by the Air Hostesses in

that regard, no relief could be given to them, but

in view of the limited promotional channels

available to Air Hostesses, Air India should

seriously consider the desirability of restoring

the posts of Deputy Chief Air Hostess in order to

28

remove the injustice which had been done to the Air

Hostesses, in violation of the principles of

natural justice.

21. Consequent upon the decision in Nergesh

Meerza’s case, a settlement was reached on 17th

November, 1983, whereby the Executive Post of

Deputy Chief Air Hostess was reintroduced with a

separate standard force and job profile and also

defining separate promotional avenues for the cadre

of Flight Pursers and Air Hostesses. The

subsequent settlement of 25th December, 1988, went

further and increased the standard force of Deputy

Chief Air Hostesses, while maintaining the separate

avenues of promotion of the two cadres.

22. The third Agreement contained in the Record

Note of Understanding dated 17th March, 1995, did

not contain anything of relevance to the facts of

this case, except for paragraph 6 of the Note which

29

provided for interchangeability of job functions.

It was indicated that in respect of new entrants

there would be interchangeability in the job

functions between male and female members of the

Cabin Crew to ensure optimum utilization of the

existing work force and the standard force to be

maintained, without affecting the promotional

avenues of the work force then in existence and

that the uniform conditions of service were to be

maintained. Paragraph 7 dealt with the upgradation

of In-Flight service, which, it was agreed, would

be carried out as per the Agreement dated 6th

October, 1992, with immediate effect. The said

Agreement did not change anything as far as the two

separate cadres were concerned, which continued to

remain in existence.

23. The aforesaid Agreement was followed by a

policy adopted by Air India for redesignation,

30

scales of pay and changes in promotion policy for

Executive Cabin Crew of In-Flight Services

Department. The same was contained in a letter

dated 24th May, 1996, written by the Director,

H.R.D., to the Director of Finance of Air India.

By virtue of the said policy, the posts of the

Executive Cabin Crew of the In-Flight Services

Department were redesignated. The Executive Cabin

Crew began from Grade No.27, which consisted of In-

Flight Supervisors and Deputy Chief Air Hostesses.

Their designation was revised to that of Deputy

Manager-IFS. Grade No.29 consisting of Deputy

Manager and Additional Chief Air Hostesses were

redesignated as Manager-IFS. Grade No.31, which

comprised of Managers and Chief Air Hostesses, were

redesignated as Senior Managers-IFS. Lastly Senior

Managers in Grade No.34 were redesignated as

Assistant General Managers-IFS. It was made clear

that such redesignation was for Administrative/

31

Executive ground assignments and, that the existing

functional designations of In-Flight Supervisor and

Air Hostess would continue, whilst on flight

duties, in accordance with the prevailing

practices. The scales of pay were also revised and

a fitment method was introduced in respect thereof.

The effect of the said policy was that all Cabin

Crew could be required to discharge dual functions,

in the air and also on the ground, in addition to

duties to be performed by In-Flight Supervisors.

24. Inasmuch as, all members of the appellant

Association, which was a Trade Union registered

under the Trade Unions Act, 1926, belong to the

workmen category of the Cabin Crew, as was then

existing, such as Assistant Flight Purser, Flight

Purser, Check Flight Purser, Additional Senior

Check Flight Purser, Senior Check Flight Purser,

Air Hostess, Senior Air Hostess, Check Air Hostess,

32

Additional Senior Check Air Hostess, Senior Check

Air Hostess and those recruited from March, 1995

onwards till the date of Settlement, they intimated

to the Management of Air India on 1st July, 1990,

that the Settlement entered into between the

Management for the period 1st October, 1985 to

August 31, 1990, stood terminated on the expiry of

the period specified in the Settlement. A fresh

Charter of Demands for the period commencing from

1st September, 1990, was also submitted. On 26th

May, 1993, the Management of Air India and the

appellant Association signed a Memorandum of

Settlement providing for payment of interim relief

during the period of wage settlement for the period

commencing from 1st September, 1990. It was

indicated that the settlement was in supersession

of all previous Agreements, Record Notes,

Understandings, Awards and past practices in

respect of matters specifically dealt with or

33

amended or modified. It was stipulated that the

Settlement would be implemented after the same was

approved by the Board of Directors of Air India

Limited. The result of the said Settlements and

Agreements was that the designation of Air

Hostesses and Flight Pursers were discontinued and

all were designated as “Cabin Crew”.

25. Then came the promotion policy for Cabin Crew

on 5th June, 1997. It was stipulated therein that

the revised promotion policy would cover all

promotions of Crew from the induction level up to

the level of Manager, which is the first Executive

level post, with the object of providing planned

growth to the Cabin Crew. From this date onwards,

the two cadres of the Cabin Crew stood merged as

far as the fresh recruits were concerned.

Paragraph 7.4 of the promotion policy provided that

the existing category of Cabin Crew on being

34

promoted to the new grades would continue to

perform their job functions prior to such promotion

till the time of actual requirement in the higher

grade. It was also provided in paragraph 7.5 that

on promotion to the Executive cadre, i.e., to the

level of Manager and above, the male Cabin Crew

would continue to carry out their respective job

functions of Assistant Flight Pursers/Flight

Pursers, as the case may be, until such time they

started performing the functions of In-Flight

Supervisors on a regular basis. Mr. Agarwala

submitted that paragraph 7.4 created a cadre within

a cadre after 5th June, 1997, and those recruited

prior to 1995 and 1999 were to continue in their

old cadre till the date of merger and the new

service conditions would apply to new recruits

after the said date.

35

26. Mr. Agarwala submitted that this Court had

taken into account all the various Agreements,

Settlements and Awards entered into by the

Management of Air India with the appellant

Association in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case and it

was not open to the High Court to attempt to

rewrite the law, as had been declared by this

Court.

27. Mr. Agarwala contended that all the Agreements

arrived at between the appellant Association and

the Management of Air India in 1977, 1983, 1988 and

1995, dealt with Executive posts and also protected

the separate and distinct promotional avenues of

Flight Pursers and Air Hostesses, at least till

1997, when there was a merger of the Cabin Crew.

28. On the question as to whether by the directive

of 21st November, 2003, issued by the Government

under Section 9 of the 1994 Act, the law as

36

declared by this Court in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s

case could be unsettled, Mr. Agarwala’s response

was to the contrary. It was submitted by him that

the said directive only directed Air India to allow

the female Cabin Crew to perform flying duties up

to the age of 58 years, but it did not say anything

more. On the other hand, by issuing the

Administrative Order dated 27th December, 2003, Air

India was seeking to nullify the judgments of this

Court, as also the binding settlements, which it

was not empowered to do under the law. It was

submitted that a contrary view could not be

canvassed by the Government authorities barely four

months after the judgment of this Court, concluding

that the directives were no longer operative due to

the repeal of the Air Corporations Act, 1994.

Mr. Agarwala contended that the directive of 21st

November, 2003, issued by the Government was

nothing but a mechanism evolved by the management

37

of Air India to circumvent the judgments of this

Court, which it could not do.

29. As to the second proposition as to whether a

post could be abolished by implication, Mr.

Agarwala submitted that the same could only be

effected through a bilateral settlement or a Court

order. It was urged that, although, on behalf of

Air India it had been submitted that the post of

In-Flight Supervisor had been abolished under the

said promotion policy, not a single clause of the

settlement reflects such submission. Mr. Agarwala

submitted that except for a seniority list of 1994

and 1998, no material had been placed on behalf of

the Air India to show that in fact the post of In-

Flight Supervisor had been abolished. In this

regard, Mr. Agarwala also referred to the

observation made by this Court in Nergesh Meerza’s

case, where it had been observed that the Court was

38

unable to understand how the Management could phase

out a post available to the Air Hostesses

exclusively, at the instance of Pursers, when they

had absolutely no concern with the said post.

30. Mr. Agarwala submitted that the case of the

appellant Association, representing the In-Flight

Pursers, was confined to the question of the

benefits which were available to In-Flight Pursers

prior to the promotion policy of 1997.

31. Mr. Sanjoy Ghose, learned Advocate appearing

for the appellants in SLP(C)Nos.20679-20682 of

2007, supported the submissions made on behalf of

the All India Cabin Crew Association and submitted

that the Appellant No.1, Kanwarjeet Singh, was

himself a party in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case

(supra). Learned counsel submitted that the

appellants were all Assistant Flight Pursers, who

also sought the same relief as was being sought by

39

the Air India Cabin Crew Association. Mr. Ghose

submitted that the appellants were aggrieved by the

order passed by the Minister of Civil Aviation on

21st November, 2003, enhancing the age of flight

duties of female Cabin Crew up to 58 years and also

the subsequent order passed by Air India on 18th

December, 2003, directing the In-Flight Services

Department of Air India to assign flight duties to

Air Hostesses who had been grounded at the age of

50 years. Mr. Ghose submitted that even the Office

Order issued by Air India on 27th December, 2005,

stating that Air India would be at liberty to

consider Air Hostesses for the post of Air Flight

Supervisor, was contrary to the decision of this

Court in both Nergesh Meerza’s case, as well as

Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case, indicating that there

were three different categories of staff comprising

the Cabin Crew. It was submitted that by issuing

the said orders, Air India was trying to by-pass

40

the decisions of this Court in the said two cases.

It was submitted that the question has to be

decided as to whether the functions discharged by

In-Flight Pursers were “job functions” or whether

the same were the adjuncts of the Flight Purser’s

duties on board the Aircraft. It was further

contended that whatever be the answer to the said

question, what was material is that in the absence

of an express agreement with the majority union,

the job functions, which were the subject matter of

industrial agreements and settlements, could not be

altered or abolished in any manner by Air India.

32. Mr. Ghose further submitted that the

respondents’ contention that the post of In-Flight

Supervisor is an executive post and workmen have no

locus standi to challenge the same, is contrary to

the position adopted by the management of Air India

regarding the legitimate interest of the appellants

41

by which their avenues of promotion had been

altered and their future job functions had been

affected, without recourse to the lawful process of

collective bargaining. It was pointed out that in

Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case (supra), this Court had

held that executives, who as workmen had entered

into and benefited from the various industrial

settlements, could not attempt to wriggle out of

the same, merely on account of having received

promotions to the executive cadre.

33. The other challenge with regard to the increase

in the retirement age of Air Hostesses up to 58

years and also assigning them flying duties up to

and beyond the age of 50 years, was the same as in

the Air India Cabin Crew Association’s case. In

addition, it was also submitted that having

protected the conditions of service of the

employees under Section 8 of the 1994 Act, the

42

legislature could not have intended to confer

powers upon the Central Government in Section 9

thereof, to direct the Management of Air India to

alter the conditions of service which had been

settled on the basis of binding settlements and

agreements. In support of his submissions, Mr.

Ghose referred to the decision of this Court in

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation Vs.

KSRTC Staff & Workers’ Federation & Anr. [(1999) 2

SCC 687], wherein, it was held that the power of

the Government to issue directives could not in its

width over-ride industrial law or create service

conditions. Mr. Ghose submitted that since the

decision in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case continued

to hold the field, any attempt to question the 1997

policy on the ground of ironing out the creases

relating to accelerated promotions and eligibility

criteria was misplaced and the 2003 directive to

permit Air Hostesses to fly beyond the age of 50

43

years, which was exigency based, should not be

allowed to continue for 8 years, since almost a

thousand new Cabin Crew had been recruited after

2003.

34. In SLP(C)Nos.20773-20778 of 2007, Rajendra

Grover and Ors. Vs. Air India Ltd. & Anr., the same

challenges were advanced as in the other two SLPs.

It was submitted by Mr. Siddharth Aggarwal, learned

Advocate appearing for the appellants, that Air

India is a Government Company within the meaning of

Section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956, in which

one of the departments is the “In-Flight Services

Department”, which includes the Cabin Crew Section,

consisting of members of two separate and distinct

cadres – Air Hostess’s Cadre and Flight Purser’s

Cadre. Mr. Aggarwal submitted that this Court had

clearly recognized the said two cadres as separate

and distinct in Nergesh Meerza’s case (supra), and

44

the same was upheld in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case

(supra). Accordingly, the conditions of service

with regard to the various posts had been the

subject matter of negotiations and settlements and,

as contended both by Mr. Siddharth Aggarwal and Mr.

Ghose, the same could not be altered to the

detriment of the workmen without due consultation

with the concerned unions. Mr. Aggarwal urged that

the post of In-Flight Supervisor is a post which

was exclusive to the Flight Pursers Cadre and even

if it is taken as a job function, the same would

continue to be exclusive to the Flight Pursers

cadre and could not, therefore, have been extended

to Air Hostesses after 1997 when the Cabin Crew

comprised of In-Flight Purser and Air Hostess were

merged. Mr. Aggarwal, submitted that on account of

judicial precedent and the principles of res

judicata, the decisions in Nergesh Meerza’s case

and Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case were binding and

45

since the terms and conditions of service of the

pre-1997 recruits had been fixed through

negotiations and agreements made in course of

industrial adjudication, the High Court ought not

to have accepted the proposal of merger of the two

cadres, without the consent of the employees. He

also reiterated that a splinter group of Air

Hostesses, who had consented to the merger as

proposed by Air India, could not wriggle out of the

binding agreements and settlements to which they

were also parties through the Air India Cabin Crew

Association, merely on the ground that they were no

longer workmen as they had been promoted to

executive posts. It was urged that the decision

taken by the Management of Air India contained in

the order of the Ministry of Civil Aviation dated

21st November, 2003, and the Office Order issued by

Air India on 18th December, 2003, as well as the

Office Order dated 27th December, 2005, were,

46

illegal, arbitrary and in violation of the

principles of res judicata and were, therefore,

liable to be quashed.

35. Mr. L. Nageshwara Rao, learned Senior Advocate,

who also appeared on behalf of the Appellant

Association, submitted that the three issues framed

for adjudication by the High Court related to (1)

the effect of the judgments of the Supreme Court in

Nergesh Meerza’s case and in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s

case (supra) on the validity of the impugned orders

and directives; (2) Whether the position of an In-

Flight Supervisor was a job function or a post; and

(3) Whether the impugned circulars and orders were

rendered invalid on the ground of procedural

violation or on the ground of discrimination,

arbitrariness or irrationality. Mr. Rao submitted

that all the three issues had been incorrectly

answered by the High Court.

47

36. Mr. Rao submitted that since it had been

categorically held in Nergesh Meerza’s case and in

Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case that Air Hostesses and

Flight Pursers constitute different cadres and that

“In-Flight Supervisor” is a post belonging to and

forming part of the Flight Purser cadre, the same

could not be altered by mere Office Orders. It was

also held that there could be no interchangeability

of functions between the two cadres, unless such

interchangeability was introduced by way of

settlement between the Appellant Association and

the Management of Air India. Mr. Rao submitted

that the High Court also observed that there was no

discrimination made out as regards the differential

treatment between Flight Pursers and Air Hostesses

and their service conditions could be different.

Accordingly, the flying age of Air Hostesses from

the Pre-1997 settlement period was fixed at 50

48

years, though the retirement age was 58 years. On

the question whether the position of In-Flight

Supervisor was a job function or a post, Mr. Rao

submitted that the said question had been decided

in Nergesh Meerza’s case and it was held that the

post belonged to the Flight Pursers cadre.

37. On the third issue regarding whether the

impugned circulars and orders had been rendered

invalid, Mr. Rao submitted that there could not be

any exercise of powers by the Central Government

under Section 9 in respect of the dispute, having

regard to the decisions rendered in Nergesh

Meerza’s case and in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case.

Mr. Rao submitted that the High Court, while

considering the matter, had arrived at a wrong

conclusion and the impugned judgment was,

therefore, liable to be set aside.

49

38. The submissions made on behalf of the

appellants in all these appeals were strongly

opposed on behalf of the Union of India by the

Additional Solicitor General, Mr. Gaurav Banerji.

He submitted that on the basis of a Record Note

dated 30th May, 1977, between Air India and the Air

India Cabin Crew Association, the post of Deputy

Chief Air Hostess was abolished and the service

conditions of Air Hostesses were altered on 12th

April, 1980 vide Regulation 46. Subsequently,

after the judgment in Nergesh Meerza’s case, the

post of Deputy Chief Air Hostess was reintroduced

on 17th November, 1983, and the challenge thereto

was rejected both by the learned Single Judge and

the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court. On

16th October, 1989, the Government of India issued

directions to Air India under Section 34 of the

1983 Act to increase the retirement age of Air

Hostesses to 58 years and the same was followed by

50

a Clarification dated 29th December, 1989,

indicating that while the Air Hostesses would

retire at the age of 58 years, they would be

entitled to fly till the age of 45 years.

Thereafter, on 12th January, 1983, a further

Circular was issued by Air India extending the

flying age of Air Hostesses from 45 years to 50

years. Soon thereafter, the Air Corporation Act

was repealed by the Air Corporations (Transfer of

Undertakings and Repeal) Act, 1994, resulting in

the Record Note between Air India and the

Association on 17th March, 1995, leading to the re-

designation of scales of pay and changes in the

promotion policy for the Executive Cabin Crew of

In-Flight Services Department. Mr. Banerji

submitted that on 5th June, 1997, a Memorandum of

Settlement was entered into between Air India and

the Association and on the same day, a promotion

policy for Cabin Crew was also promulgated. This

51

was challenged in the Bombay High Court in

Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case (supra), in which the

Bombay High Court held that the cadre of Flight

Pursers was distinct and separate from that of Air

Hostesses. Mr. Banerji submitted that while the

decision in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case was

rendered by the Division Bench on 11th July, 2003,

by a Presidential Directive dated 21st November,

2003, issued under section 9 of the Air

Corporations (Repeal) Act, 1994, Air Hostesses were

allowed to undertake flying duties till the age of

58 years, which was followed by the Administrative

Order dated 27th December, 2005, by which the

Executive female Cabin Crew was made eligible to be

considered to be in position along with male Cabin

Crew.

39. Mr. Banerji submitted that the issues involved

in these matters are purely administrative in

52

nature relating to the management of Air India and

did not, therefore, attract the provisions of

Article 14 of the Constitution as the Company has

the right to run and manage its affairs in

accordance with law. Mr. Banerji submitted that in

the revised Promotion Policy for the Cabin Crew

dated 5th June, 1997, there was a shift from the

policy of standard force promotion to a time bound

policy. By virtue of Clause 4 of the Promotion

Policy, there was a merger of the male and female

Cabin Crew, both the existing crew and new

recruits, to make them all eligible for the Career

Advancement Scheme.

40. Referring to the Memorandum of Settlement

arrived at between the management and the workmen

represented by the Appellant Association, Mr.

Banerji pointed out that the said Settlement

covered only the workmen and not the members of the

53

executive staff. He pointed out that in clause 7

of the Memorandum of Settlement it was

categorically stated and agreed to by the parties

that the Cabin Crew who are promoted to the grade

of Manager (Grade 29 and above) would not be

represented by the Appellant Association. Mr.

Banerji submitted that as per the earlier promotion

policy, a decision had been taken to rationalize

the designations of the Cabin Crew. In keeping

with the said decision In-Flight Supervisors and

Deputy Chief Air Hostesses, who were in Grade 27,

were re-designated as Deputy Manager-IFS. Grade 28

was abolished and Grade 29 was comprised of Deputy

Manager and Additional Chief Air Hostesses, who

were re-designated as Manager-IFS. It was,

however, clarified that the revised designations

were for executive/administrative ground

assignments. The existing functional designations

of In-Flight Supervisors and Air Hostesses would

54

continue while on flight duties, in accordance with

prevailing practices. Once again referring to the

revised Promotion Policy of 5th June, 1997, Mr.

Banerji also referred to paragraph 7.4 onwards

where it has been stated in no uncertain terms that

the existing cadre of Cabin Crew on being promoted

to the new/higher grades would continue to perform

their job functions prior to such promotion till

the time actual requirement arose in the higher

grade or position. Paragraph 7.5.1 also stipulated

that on promotion to the executive cadre i.e. to

the level of Manager (Grade 29 and above) the male

Cabin Crew would continue to carry out their

respective job functions of AFP/FP till such time

as they started to perform the functions of In-

Flight Supervisors on a regular basis. Mr. Banerji

also pointed out that in paragraph 7.5.3 it has

been mentioned that the male Cabin Crew would be

required to carry out executive/administrative

55

office duties, as and when required, without

disturbing their bids and on promotion to the level

of Manager and above, they would be entitled to

applicable allowances and benefits attached to the

respective executive grades of Cabin Crew.

Similarly, in the case of promotee female Cabin

Crew recruited prior to March, 1995, to the

executive grades, paragraph 7.5.4 provided that

there would be no change in their existing terms

and conditions of service and the female Cabin Crew

would be entitled to be paid for their flights.

They would also be entitled to applicable

allowances and benefits attached to their

respective grades of Cabin Crew. Mr. Banerji

submitted that the aforesaid Settlement and

Promotion Policy superseded all the earlier

Settlements and hence the claim of the Appellants

regarding the right of In-Flight Pursers to pre-

merger benefits was not tenable in law.

56

41. Referring to the decision in Nargesh Meerza’s

case (supra), Mr. Banerji contended that two cadres

of In-Flight Pursers and Air Hostesses were being

maintained separately, although, there was always a

possibility of duties and job functions

overlapping. By the revised Promotion Policy the

two cadres were brought at par with each other.

Mr. Banerji submitted that the basis of the

decision in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case (supra) was

that the majority of the Air Hostesses had wanted

to retire from flight duties on international

flights at the age of 50 yeas or opt for ground

duties on 50 years of age up to the age of 58 years

on a par with males, so that at least in some

period of their service, they would not have to

remain for long periods away from their homes and

families.

57

42. Mr. Banerji submitted that, although, in the

writ petitions before the High Court the vires of

Section 9 of the Air Corporations (Transfer of

Undertaking and Repeal) Act, 1994, had been

challenged, the said provisions were exactly the

same, as was contained in Section 34 of the Air

Corporations Act, 1953, which empowered the

Government to issue any directions in respect of

any functions of the Corporations, which then

existed, where the Corporations have power to

regulate the matter in any manner including the

terms and conditions of service of officers and

employees of the Corporation. In fact, the

provisions of Section 9 of the Repeal Act had not

been diluted in any way by the judgments in the

Nergesh Meerza and in Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case.

Mr. Banerji submitted that for a long time there

had been complaints with regard to the

discrimination in the service conditions of Air

58

Hostesses in Air India and it was, therefore,

decided to remove such discrimination in service

conditions of the Air Hostesses to bring them at

par with other male crew members. Mr. Banerji

submitted that in individual cases, Air Hostesses

could be allowed to opt out of flying till the age

of 58 years, but as a general Rule, by virtue of

the Presidential Directive, all Air Hostesses were

required to discharge the functions of Air Cabin

Crew along with their male counter-parts. As far

as Air Hostesses belonging to the Executive Cadre

are concerned, even they were required to discharge

such duties till they could be accommodated in a

substantial vacancy.

43. Mr. Banerji submitted that the decision to

increase the flying age of Air Hostesses to 58

years was to remove the discrimination allegedly

59

practised against them and not to prejudice their

service conditions.

44. Appearing for a group of Air Hostesses

represented by the Air India Hostesses Association

and the Air India Executive Hostesses Association,

Respondent Nos.3 and 4 in the writ petition filed

by Kanwarjeet Singh, Mr. C.U. Singh, learned Senior

Advocate, submitted that the said Association

(AICCA) had no right to question the claims of

those who had already been promoted to the

managerial cadre by virtue of the revised promotion

policy. Mr. Singh submitted that the said

Association could represent employees up to Grade

26 who were considered to be “workmen” for the

purposes of collective bargaining. Mr. Singh

pointed out that the settlement dated 5th June,

1997, was only with regard to the terms and

conditions of service of workmen up to Grade 26.

60

45. Mr. Singh submitted that the claim of the Air

Hostesses for parity of service conditions with

their male counter-parts had been continuing for a

considerable length of time. The said disputes

were referred to the National Industrial Tribunal

by the Central Government on 28th February, 1972.

The Award was published on 25th March, 1972,

wherein, it was ultimately observed that the nature

of duties of In-Flight Supervisors, the Deputy

Chief Flight Pursers and the Deputy Chief Air

Hostesses were administrative and supervisory.

Hence, they were not “workmen” within the meaning

of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and their

case was beyond the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

The Tribunal also took note of the evidence that

the Deputy Chief Air Hostess and the In-Flight

Supervisor performed supervisory functions, both on

the ground as well as in flight and that Cabin Crew

were to work as a team and interchangeability of

61

duties could be insisted upon by the Management in

emergencies, when a standby Crew of that class was

not available. It was, however, clarified that the

Management should not have blanket power to effect

such interchangeability of duties between Air

Hostesses and Assistant Flight Pursers and Flight

Pursers. Mr. Singh reiterated that in 1977 the

supervisory post of Deputy Chief Air Hostesses was

phased out and on account of the anomalies which

surfaced the Record Note of Agreement signed by the

Management of Air India and the Association on 30th

May, 1977 took note of the fact that female

Executives, irrespective of rank or seniority,

would be listed as Air Hostesses on board the

Aircraft, and would be deprived of their rank and

seniority. Consequently, all reports issued on the

Aircraft would have to be signed by the Air

Hostess, irrespective of her rank and were to be

countersigned by the Flight Purser. This ultimately

62

led to the new promotion policy for Cabin Crew on

5th June, 1997, which was, however, confined to

employees in the workmen category alone.

Ultimately, by Office Order dated 18th December,

2003, female Cabin Crew were permitted to undertake

flying duties up to the age of 58 years with the

object that opportunities for male and female Cabin

Crew should be equal in Air India and that female

Cabin Crew should be eligible for being considered

for the post of In-Flight Supervisor along with the

male Cabin Crew.

46. Mr. Singh submitted that ultimately the writ

petitions, which were filed, inter alia, for a

declaration that Section 9 of the Air Corporation

(Transfer of Undertakings and Repeal) Act, 1994,

was ultra vires and for other reliefs, was

dismissed by the Delhi High Court, resulting in the

Special Leave Petitions. Mr. Singh submitted that

63

there was no substance in the appeals filed since

the revised promotion rules had been approved and

accepted by all concerned. Mr. Singh urged that it

was on account of the continued representations

made for placing the cadre of Air Hostesses at par

with the cadre of In-Flight Pursers, that the

settlement was arrived at and there was no reason

to interfere with the same. Mr. Singh submitted

that the appeals were, therefore, liable to be

dismissed.

47. From the submissions made on behalf of the

respective parties, what ultimately emerges for

decision is whether the management of Air India was

entitled to alter the service conditions of Flight

Pursers and Air Hostesses, despite several

bilateral agreements arrived at between Air India

and its workmen represented by the Air India Cabin

Crew Association, and the Executive cadre of In-

64

Flight Pursers and Air Hostesses promoted to the

Executive rank and given Grade 29, which was the

starting point of the Executive cadre. The other

connected question involved is whether those Flight

Pursers who had been promoted in terms of the

revised promotion policy, would still be governed

by the Settlements arrived at between the

Management and the Unions, since they were covered

by the same prior to their promotion to the

Executive cadre.

48. Another question which calls for our attention

is with regard to the merger of Cabin Crew effected

in 1996, giving rise to the other disputed

questions relating to interchangeability of duties

between Flight Pursers and Air Hostesses. It may

be indicated that during the course of the hearing,

Mr. Pramod B. Agarwala urged that the Appellant

Association was mainly concerned with the status of

65

In-Flight Supervisors prior to the merger of cadres

in 1996. In deciding the aforesaid questions, this

Court will have to take into consideration the

decisions rendered in Nergesh Meerza’s case (supra)

and Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case (supra), although,

strictly speaking, we are more concerned with the

decision taken in terms of Section 9 of the 1994

Act, to bring about a parity in the service

conditions of both Flight Pursers and Air

Hostesses, both at the level of workmen and also

the Executive cadre. While the Agreements are not

altered or vary to any large extent, what has been

done is to iron out the differences on account of

the revised promotion policy, which exempted some

of the workmen, who had been transformed to the

category of Executive from the ambit of the said

Settlements. It is apparent from a reading of both

the judgments delivered in Nergesh Meerza’s case

and Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case that the same were

66

rendered in the context of bringing parity between

the cadre of In-Flight Supervisors and the cadre of

Air Hostesses. It is, in fact, the prerogative of

the Management to place an employee in a position

where he would be able to contribute the most to

the Company. Hence, notwithstanding the decision

in Nergesh Meerza’s case and in Yeshaswinee

Merchant’s case, the Air India was at liberty to

adopt the revised promotion policy which was

intended to benefit all the employees.

49. As indicated hereinbefore, Mr. Pramod B.

Agarwala, representing the Appellant Association,

submitted that the appellants were not concerned

with the post-revised promotion policy, but with

the separate cadre of In-Flight Pursers, as

distinct from the cadre of Air Hostesses, with

regard to their channel of promotion. We are

inclined to agree with Mr. Agarwala’s submissions

67

that prior to 1997, there was a category of Cabin

Crew referred to as In-Flight Supervisors, which

was confined to In-Flight Pursers alone and did not

concern the Air Hostesses. However, we are unable

to agree with Mr. Agarwala’s submissions with

regard to treating the duties discharged by In-

Flight Supervisors to indicate that “In-Flight

Supervisor” was a separate post. We are inclined

to accept the submissions made on behalf of Air

India that the duties discharged by persons

designated as In-Flight Supervisors did not create

any separate post and the post remained that of In-

Flight Pursers.

50. Accordingly, we are unable to accept the

further submissions made on behalf of the

appellants that they had been discriminated against

in any way on account of the decision in Nergesh

Meerza’s case and Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case. As

68

was observed by this Court in Inderpreet Singh

Kahlon & Ors. Vs. State of Punjab & Ors. {(2006) 11

SCC 356], it is well-settled that a decision is an

authority for what it decides and not what can

logically be deduced therefrom. Further, it is

also well-settled that the ratio of a case must be

understood having regard to the fact situation

obtaining therein. The position since the

decisions rendered in Nergesh Meerza’s case and in

Yeshaswinee Merchant’s case, underwent a change

with the adoption of the revised promotion policy

agreed to between the parties and which replaced

all the earlier agreements. In our view, the

Management of Air India was always entitled to

alter its policies with regard to their workmen,

subject to the consensus arrived at between the

parties in supersession of all previous agreements.

We are also unable to accept the further submission

made on behalf of the appellants that those workmen

69

who had been promoted to the Executive category

would continue to be governed by the Settlements

arrived at when they were workmen and were

represented by the Association. In our view, once

an employee is placed in the Executive cadre, he

ceases to be a workman and also ceases to be

governed by Settlements arrived at between the

Management and the workmen through the concerned

Trade Union. It is not a question of an attempt

made by such employees to wriggle out of the

Settlements which had been arrived at prior to

their elevation to the Executive cadre, which, by

operation of law, cease to have any binding force

on the employee so promoted by the Management.

51. We are not, therefore, inclined to interfere

with the orders passed in the several writ

petitions, out of which the present appeals arise,

and the same are, accordingly, dismissed. All

70

connected applications, if any, will also stand

disposed of by this order.

52. However, having regard to the facts of the

case, the parties will bear their own expenses.

…………………………………………J.

(ALTAMAS KABIR)

…………………………………………J.

(CYRIAC JOSEPH)

New Delhi

Dated: 17.11.2011

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