New Delhi: Could Jet Airways have been saved?
Could 22,000 jobs and their families be saved from joblessness?
Scores of investors and financial institutions having exposure to the debt-laden airline, be saved?
A series of tweets from a senior journalist suggests that Jet and several people associated with the airline could have been saved.
Veteran journalist and an anti-corruption activist, Vineet Narain, in a series of tweets has made that startling claim. Narain had exposed the 1990s Jain Hawala scandal. He also filed a public interest petition to pressurise the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This was at a time when the CBI was widely criticised for a collapse in its prosecutions. As a fallout of the PIL by Narain, the apex court ruled that the Director of the CBI should be appointed on the recommendations of a committee headed by the Central Vigilance Commissioner.
On Tuesday, Narain claimed that the failure of Jet Airways could have been averted had the authorities acted on his complaints on time.
Narain said that he and his colleagues "persistently investigated several scams of Jet and Ministry of Civil Aviation and filed PIL in the Delhi High Court".
"If CBI and CVC would have acted on our complaints in time, then so much damage to Indian banks, passengers in terms of high fares, loss of job to 22,000 employees and major disruption in aviation sector would have been averted. Will PMO also look into these lapses on their part?" Narain tweeted on Wednesday, tagging the Prime Minister's Office.
He, added that the investigating agencies have started moving in the right direction now.
"Naresh Goyal had for two decades taken the Civil Aviation Ministry, DGCA and Air India for a ride to pamper his own airlines, " Narain said.
Here are his tweets:
@PMOIndia Thx for finally nailing promotor of Jet Airways Naresh Goyal. My colleague in @RajneeshKapur Mg Editor @KalchakraNews persistently investigated several scams of Jet & Min of Civil Aviation & filed PIL in Delhi HC . I also filed several complaints with CVC & CBI .— Vineet Narain (@NarainVineet) June 19, 2019
The case of Jet Airways has officially been admitted to the National Company Law Tribunal. Jet Airways had abruptly ceased operations on April 17 2019 claiming lack of funds to operate the airline. As many as 22,000 families of employees working with Jet Airways bore the brunt of operations ceasing.
On the share market, Jet Airways has lead to a considerable loss for retail investors. The stock was trading at a price of Rs 164 per share on 18th April 2019. On Wednesday, the share was reported as trading at a price of Rs 40 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The stock has lost three-fourths of its valuation within two months.
Lenders of Jet Airways have taken the case to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking an insolvency plea. This, after two months of hunting for buyers who could buy the beleaguered airline. Although many firms said they were keen to invest in the debt-laden airline, they made several conditions including asking lenders to take deep haircuts. In several cases, the haircut was as high as 70 percent.
The NCLT Mumbai bench has agreed to hear the case on Wednesday.
According to media reports, Jet Airways owes as much as Rs 14,000 crores to financial institutions and other creditors. With no sight of a buyer, the NCLT remains the last hope for lenders such as State Bank of India.
Narain's assertions pose tough questions to policy makers and to the overall system. Key among those questions are whether financial institutions were practicing credible lending processes? And, did law enforcement officials turn a blind eye to complaints on the Jet account?
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