The Delhi High Court allowed TWC Aviation Capital Ltd. to take charge of two aircraft leased to Spicejet as they failed to pay lease rentals due to them.

Plaintiff TWC Aviation Capital approached the High Court with the present suit seeking a declaration that the earlier orders of the U.K. Court directing Spicejet to hand over the aircraft as it failed to pay the due lease rent are binding.

The bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh observed, “In keeping with the principles of Comity of Courts as also the admitted position being that a substantial sum of money is due from the Defendant to the Plaintiff, this Court is of the opinion that the Aircrafts and the engines deserve to be secured the same may be inspected by a team of officials of the Plaintiff who may take charge of the said aircrafts/frames, even if sans the engines. The same shall, however, not be moved till further orders of this Court. The officials of the Plaintiff shall act as receivers of the Court and maintain them.”

Brief Facts-

The Plaintiff TWC Aviation Capital is the owner of two Boeing aircraft as well as three Aircraft Engines. Plaintiff vide Aircraft Lease Agreement leased out the said aircraft with the engines for a term of 12 months with a basic rent of USD 180,000 per month. It is the case of the Plaintiff that the Defendant did not make the payment of the lease rentals and various amendment agreements were entered into to accommodate payment difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these amendments agreements were also breached by the Defendant.

When the notices to give undertaking which were issued to the defendant were not complied with, the plaintiff in terms of the jurisdiction clause in the Agreement, approached the High Court of Justice in England Wales, Court and instituted a suit against the Defendant.

The Court highlighted from the UK orders that “The Claimant shall retain the Engines in India and not remove them out of India on or before 17 May 2024.”

The Court observed that despite the orders such as the above-mentioned Defendant failed to comply with the same and was found to have removed the Engines and used them in other aircraft, without permission, leading to further legal notices from the Plaintiff.

The Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in Alcon Electronics Private Limited v. Celem S.A. of FOS 34320 Roujan, France and Anr. ((2017) 2 SCC 253) and quoted, “As far as the explanation with regard to reciprocal territory is concerned, there is no dispute that England is a reciprocating territory for the purpose of above section. Section 44-A CPC indicates an independent right conferred on a foreign decree-holder for enforcement of a decree/order in India.”

“It is a part of the arrangement under which on one part decrees of Indian Courts are made executable in United Kingdom and on the other part, decrees of Courts in the United Kingdom and other notified parts of Her Majesty's dominions are made executable in India. It is to be seen that as United Kingdom is a reciprocating territory and the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, England being a recognised superior court in England. Therefore, the order passed by that Court is executable in India under Section 44-A CPC.”Court quoted.

“English Court falls within the definition of “order” and therefore, it is a judgment and thus becomes a “decree” as per Explanation to Section 44-A(3) CPC. In this case, the Court at England, after following the principles of natural justice, by recording reasons and very importantly basing on the application of the appellant itself, has conclusively decided the issue with regard to jurisdiction and passed the order coupled with costs.”Court further quoted from the order.

The Court sought instructions as to how and in what manner Defendant intended to compensate/ return the engines to the Plaintiff by next date of hearing.

It further directed to furnish a usage report of these aircraft/engines to the plaintiff.

The Court listed the case for next hearing.

Cause Title: TWC Aviation Capital Limited v. Spicejet limited


Appellant: Sr. Adv. Ashish Dholakia, Adv. Ravi Nath, Adv. Ankur Mahindro, Adv. Rohan Taneja, Adv. Aditya Kapur, Adv. Siddhant, Adv. Abhijit Mittal, Adv. Ankesh Tripathi

Respondent: Sr. Adv. Sandeep Sethi, Adv. K R Sasiprabhu, Adv. Kartikeya Asthana, Adv. Sumer Dev Seth, Adv. Riya Kumar

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