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Justice Pratibha recuses herself from Go First lessors' case against DGCA

Though Justice Singh gave no explanation about the reason for her recusal, it should be noted that her spouse Senior Advocate Maninder Singh was representing Go First in NCLAT

Go First

Go First Airbus A320neo planes are powered by Pratt & Whitney (P&W)-geared turbofan engines.

Bhavini Mishra New Delhi

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Justice Parthiba M Singh of Delhi High Court on Thursday recused herself from hearing the plea by Go First aircraft lessors against Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), seeking possession of their aircraft.

The DGCA told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that the it has not rejected the application of Go First's lessor for the deregisteration of aircraft but has kept the proces(of deregisteration) in abeyance because of the moratorium.

This was on a petition by Pembroke Aircraft Leasing 11 Limited, one of the lessors of Go First, which had moved the court on Monday seeking to deregister its aircraft which is leased to Go First. 

Besides Pembroke, the other lessors who have moved the court on similar grounds are Accipiter Investments Aircraft 2 Limited, EOS Aviation 12 (Ireland) Limited, and SMBC Aviation Capital Limited.

Let it be listed on Friday before another judge, subject to the orders of the Chief Justice, Justice Singh said. 

The counsel for the lessors said that they were seeking a relief against the DGCA and not Go First so the airline was not a party to the proceedings. 

The disputed aircraft are currently in possession of Go First as the NCLAT passed an order on Monday upholding the National Company Law Tribunal(NCLT), Delhi's order of May 10 which admitted the airline’s insolvency plea. As soon as the insolvency plea was accepted, a moratorium was put in place which means that lessors cannot take their aircraft back. 

A moratorium period is the suspension of all or certain legal remedies against a debtor(In this case Go First).  

"We have no problem with the NCLAT order. Out relief is against the DGCA," the counsel for one of the lessors argued.

Though Justice Singh gave no explanation about the reason for her recusal, it should be noted that her spouse Senior Advocate Maninder Singh was representing Go First in NCLAT. 

The DGCA on Wednesday had told the court it takes five days to process the deregisteration application and before it could be done a moratorium was in place after the NCLT order. 

Other lessors had also told NCLAT in the earlier hearings that they had sought the deregistration of Go First's aircraft before the insolvency plea was admitted. In reply to this, Go First argued that the lessors had hastily applied for the deregisteration of aircraft as soon as they got the wind of the fact that airline was filing for insolvency. 

Pembroke reiterated the arguments of the other lessors and told the Delhi High Court that the airline has no right to operate the aircraft once the lease is cancelled. Meanwhile, the Interim Resolution Professional(IRP) of Go First said that they need the aircraft to resume operations. 

The court is likely to hear the case on May 26(Friday) before another bench. 

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First Published: May 25 2023 | 11:00 PM IST

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