Case Brief: Air India Vs. Nargesh Meerza And Ors.


Transfer Case No. 3 of 1981 or 1981 AIR 1829

Facts of the case

The Regulations 46 and 47 of the Air India Employees Service Regulations were seemed to create a certain degree of disparity between male [ Air Flight Pursers (AFPs)] and female [Air Hostesses (AHs)], also certain differentiation on the part of AHs was also in dispute, i.e. between AHs working for Air India (A.I.) which is the international organization and between Indian Airlines Corporation (I.A.C.) which is the domestic organization.

As per Regulation 46 there was disparity among AFPs and AHs regarding the promotional avenues, retirement ages as well as the conditions under which the service of AHs can be terminated on marriage and pregnancy.

Retirement age for AHs was 35 years but for the AFPs the same was 58 years, also an AH’s service would stand terminated if she got married within the first four years of her service or on her first pregnancy.

Regulation 47 provided for discretion or power on the part of Managing Director to extend the retirement as per his discretion.


  1. Whether the age of retirement of AHs as per Regulation 46 is reasonable (checking validity as per articles 14,15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution)?
  2. Whether the grounds of termination of service of an AH on marriage within the first four years of service and on first pregnancy, are valid as per the Indian Constitution (checking its Constitutional validity)?
  3. Whether the discretionary power vested with the Managing Director to extend the retirement of an employee is deemed to be excessive delegation?

Opinion of the Judge

Justice Fazal Ali after relying on various judgments gave opinion regarding the question of discrimination as per article 14 of the Indian Constitution, according to him, there must be some distinction drawn between ‘discrimination with reason’ and ‘discrimination without reason’. Circumstances governing one set of persons or objects may not always be the same for another set of persons or objects, hence the question of unequal treatment doesn’t arise here. Justice Ali after relying on the State of Punjab v. Joginder Singh, Sham Sunder v. UOI, Western U.P. Electric Power and Supply Co. Ltd. V. State of U.P. and many other cases, held that where the employment conditions, promotion procedure, working methods are different, service terms are different, i.e. the AFPs and AHs belong to different classes, then, in that case, there can be no question of discriminationor unequal treatment as unequal classes can be treated unequally and hence there’s no discrimination between AFPs and AHs as per article 14 of the Indian Constitution. Also, as the conditions of service with regard to retirement, etc. are different and hence these are not violative of Article 16 of the Indian Constitution. The regulations are not seemed to be discriminative only on the basis of sex but are coupled with other considerations. Hence after relying on Yusuf Abdul Aziz v. State of Bombay and Husseinbhoy Laljee, the regulation is not violative of Article 15 of the Indian Constitution.

With regards to the age of retirement and power with the Managing Director to extend retirement of an employee, Justice Ali opined- that the retirement age can’t be fixed on a cut and dried formula and the same has to be determined from individual to individual based on a medical test and also it is based on a variety of factors and various circumstances. As per Lala Hari Chand Sarda v. Mizo District Council, a provision which gives unreasonable discretionary power to authority is unreasonable and is violative of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The said regulation 47 was struck down by Justice Ali as it was invalid as it gave uncontrolled, unguided and absolute discretion to the Managing Director.

This Case Brief is prepared by Paras Panjwani, Student at Institute of Law, Nirma University.


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