Millennium Post

File status report on money laundering probe against AirAsia officials, HC to ED

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court directed the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday to file a status report of its investigation in a money laundering case lodged against some officials of AirAsia India whose flying licence has been challenged by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar made ED a party in Swamy's petition challenging the airline's flying licence and Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to AirAsia -- a joint venture of Tata Group and Malaysia's largest budget airline AirAsia Berhad. The court directed the probe agency to file its status report in a sealed cover before the next date of hearing on May 14. Swamy had earlier urged the court to seek a report from ED regarding its investigation.

He had in July last year moved a plea to stay the airline's application for permission to operate international flights. The high court had dismissed it. In his main petition, Swamy has contended that the flying rights granted to the carrier were in violation of the government's policy on foreign investment.

He said that according to the policy, foreign investment was allowed only in existing airlines and was not meant for floating or starting a new airline, like AirAsia India.

The Centre has denied that there was any violation of FDI norms while granting approval to the low-cost AirAsia (India) Pvt Ltd.

It had said that FDI was permissible in an existing airline as well as a new venture. The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which has also opposed the flying license granted to AirAsia, had earlier alleged that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was "deliberately turning a blind eye" to the issue.

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