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SpiceJet’s legal turbulence: Chairman’s soaring remuneration amid court summons, record losses

Even as SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh has been summoned yet again by Delhi High Court in connection with the payment of an additional Rs 100 crore to former promoter Kalanithi Maran, the airline's annual report suggests a huge jump in Singh’s remuneration, a three-year high, during FY23 notwithstanding the second biggest loss in the airline’s history posted in the same year.

New Delhi, Jan 12,2024:  Even as SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh has been summoned yet again by Delhi High Court in connection with the payment of an additional Rs 100 crore to former promoter Kalanithi Maran, the airline’s annual report suggests a huge jump in Singh’s remuneration, a three-year high, during FY23 notwithstanding the second biggest loss in the airline’s history posted in the same year.

“During the financial year 2022-23, the Company has paid Rs 60.00 million to Ajay Singh, Chairman & Managing Director as remuneration against the approved remuneration of Rs 72.00 million and has taken provisions for remaining remuneration of Rs 12.00 million. The Company has also paid outstanding remuneration of Rs 18.00 million to Ajay Singh for previous financial year,” read the recently released annual report’s page-55.

“The Nomination and Remuneration Committee of the Company has framed a policy for selection and appointment of directors including determining qualifications of director, key managerial personnel and their remuneration as part of its charter and other matters provided under Section 178(3) of the Act,” read the report.

“During the financial year ended March 31, 2023, there is no pecuniary relationship or transactions of the non-executive director’s vis-à-vis the Company except payment of sitting fees of Rupees one lakh for attending each Board Meeting,” it read.

In the ongoing legal tussle between SpiceJet and Sun Group Chairman Kalanithi Maran over the payment of dues from an arbitral award, the high court summoned SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh on Wednesday. The proceedings were adjourned at the request of SpiceJet’s counsel, and Singh has been directed to appear before a new bench in February. This marks the third summons for Singh in this case.

The dispute, lingering since September 2023, has faced delays, partly attributed to changes in the benches overseeing the case. With three different benches handling the matter so far, a fourth bench is scheduled for the February hearing.

SpiceJet has contested the arbitral award in the high court’s division bench, leading to an ongoing legal dispute. Maran claims Rs 440 crore in interest, while SpiceJet maintains it has paid Rs 100 crore following a court directive in August, owing only Rs 194 crore more.

Meanwhile, on January 10, in an announcement at the annual general meeting, Singh revealed the airline’s exclusive rights to operate flights to Lakshadweep.

Singh confirmed that the carrier is set to launch flights to Agatti Island, the sole airfield in the region, eliminating the current route through Kochi.

This development follows a stakeholders’ meeting where it was decided that a significant portion of the recently infused Rs 2,250 crore funds would be allocated to expanding the airline and its network.

As per airline officials, during the AGM, Singh emphasised the positive impact of this fund infusion, saying that it would contribute to a stronger and more resilient SpiceJet, bringing grounded planes back into operation.

Singh also disclosed plans to launch flights connecting Ayodhya with multiple cities in the country, expanding the airline’s reach.

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