New Delhi, Apr 10 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today directed national carrier Air India to release the salary of a pilot, who was grounded in 2016 after being allegedly tested positive for alcohol consumption before and after flights on two occasions.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked the airline why it had withdrawn the full salary of the pilot and how could he sustain in such circumstances.

“Why no part of his salary has been paid since January 2017. You cannot withdraw the full salary. He has to have something to sustain. Release it,” the judge told Air India.

The pilot’s flying licence was taken away but he has not been terminated from services yet and was still an employee of the airline, his counsel said.

The court issued notice to the airline and the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA), seeking their responses by May 15, the next date of hearing.

It was hearing a petition filed by an Air India captain, whose flying licence was taken away in August 2016, seeking release of his salary which was allegedly not given to him since January 2017.

During the hearing, the judge asked the DGCA why neither the flying allowance, nor his basic salary was being given to the pilot.

To this, the counsel for DGCA said the pilot was not being allowed to fly and hence, no allowance could be given in that regard. The issue of releasing his salary was to be decided by the airline and not by the DGCA, she added.

The court then asked the DGCA to file a counter affidavit before the next date of hearing on May 15.

“Petitioner is not being paid salary from January 2017. Besides non payment of flying allowance, the petitioner has also alleged that procedure for carrying out breath analyser tests (BA Test) have also not been adhered to. He said between two tests, a controlled test has to be conducted, which was not done. It is submitted that controlled test was carried out after the second BA test,” the judge said.

The high court was informed that the petitioner was subjected to BA test during pre-flight check at Chennai in June 2015 and the second time a post-flight test was conducted on him in Calicut on August 10, 2016.

The counsel for the pilot submitted that he was suspended for three months on charges of alcohol consumption, adding that an FIR was filed against him on August 26, 2016, but the police, after the probe, had filed a closure report on April 6, 2017 exonerating him of the charges.

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for Air India said instructions were needed from the airline on the issue of release of salary to the pilot.

“Issue notice to Air India, DGCA. Rejoinder be filed in three weeks. Air India to seek instructions. List on May 15,” the judge said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.