HC tells Jet, Sahara to settle dispute amicably

The Bombay High Court on Monday asked Jet Airways and Sahara India Commercial Corporation to sit across the table and mutually resolve their tax dispute by Wednesday. The court also allowed the Naresh Goyal-led Jet Air to give three aircraft on dry lease to Turkish Air lines.

Justice D Y Chandrachud told the airlines that the court would hear their dispute on Wednesday, but suggested that the two carriers settle their dispute out of court.

Modifying its 31 March order on a plea made by Jet, the court also allowed the airline to give two aircraft on dry lease from 25 June and another one from 25 July to Turkish Airlines. Jet's counsel had said that the wet lease was expiring on those dates and ''we need to renew them''.

In its earlier order, the court had restrained Jet Airways from creating any third party interest in their assets, including 40 aircraft, until its dispute with Sahara was settled.

The dispute between Jet and Sahara dates back to April 2007, when Jet had agreed to buy Sahara Airlines (now Jetlite). The deal was for Rs1,450 crore, of which Jet paid about Rs900 crore up front. The remaining Rs550 crore was to be paid in four equal instalments. One of the clauses in the agreement stated that if there was a tax liability of over Rs50 crore for the period before the filing of consent terms, this would have to be borne by Sahara.

When a tax liability of Rs107 crore arose, Jet paid only Rs 100.50 crore as the first instalment after deducting the tax liability in March last year, to which Sahara did not raise any objections. However, when Jet did the same in March this year, Sahara claimed a default of Rs37 crore.