Jet Airways’ Bumpy Flight Path Points to Serious Issues with India’s New Bankruptcy Code

On November 10, 2022, came startling news.

As a part of an investigation into suspected fraud and money-laundering, prosecutors in Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria had raided multiple properties belonging to Florian Fritsch. The investigation was based, said the Liechtenstein prosecutor, on “several complaints by suspected victims”.

The news created ripples in distant India. Fritsch is the promoter of Kalrock Capital Partners which, along with UAE-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan, has bought Jet Airways through bankruptcy proceedings.

Kalrock was quick to dismiss any suggestions of impropriety. “The investigation…has been initiated based on anonymous complaints filed in relation to certain businesses where Florian is one of the financial investors in his personal capacity,” it said, adding the disputes are “commercial in nature”.

The firm also said neither it nor Jet had any connection with these charges. “These investigations have no impact (on) the acquisition of Jet Airways, and Jalan-Kalrock Consortium remains committed towards Jet Airways,” it said.

Kalrock’s statement notwithstanding, the raid underscored how poorly Jet Airways’ tryst with bankruptcy proceedings is progressing.

Once India’s leading airline, Jet entered bankruptcy courts in April, 2019, after attempts to save it failed. Its resolution process saw established firms in the aviation sector drop out early and a bevy of unknown firms, like Russia’s Treasury RA Creator, throw their hats in the ring instead.

In October 2020, it was eventually sold to a consortium of UAE-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan and Cayman Islands-based Kalrock Capital Partners despite Jalan’s links to the infamous Gupta brothers of South Africa. Adding to the puzzlement, the Consortium bagged Jet despite offering banks, employees and operational creditors – who had pegged their dues from the airline at Rs 24,888 crore – all of Rs 475 crore.

That is just the start.

Two years have passed since the Consortium bagged Jet Airways. This period has been one of stasis, with banks, employee associations and the new management locked in court battles. Last November, citing financial pressure, the consortium reduced pay for a third of its employees and put a smaller percentage on leave without pay. In this period, Jet 2.0 has also lost key executives and missed multiple deadlines to resume operations (see this, this, this and this).

As this article gets written, matters stay intriguingly poised. On one hand, NCLT has given the consortium six months to pay banks – but directed banks to transfer ownership in the meantime. Bankers are mulling an appeal. In the meantime, worried about unpaid gratuity, an employee association has gotten four Jet Airways Boeings impounded.

This disarray needs to be understood. Its causal factors extend beyond the blame-game underway between Jet’s ex-employees, banks and the Jalan-Kalrock Consortium. Take a closer look at its bankruptcy saga and you will see several of the deficiencies that haunt India’s Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

Apart from producing low loan-recoveries for banks, it is also resulting in consequential – but little-discussed – changes in ownership over India’s private sector.

And so, drumroll, we have my first reported story for 2023. The first part takes a look at Jet’s suboptimal tryst with insolvency proceedings. The second part, looking at how India’s insolvency code was drafted — and the winners and losers it has engendered — will be published on Friday.

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I am an Indian journalist with interests in energy, environment, climate and India’s ongoing slide into right-wing authoritarianism. My book, Despite the State, an examination of pervasive state failure and democratic decay in India, was published by Westland Publications, India, in January 2021. My work has won the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award; the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award; and five Shriram Awards for Excellence in Financial Journalism. Write to me at


…une plongée dans les failles béantes de la démocratie indienne, un compte rendu implacable du dysfonctionnement des Etats fédérés, minés par la corruption, le clientélisme, le culte de la personnalité des élus et le capitalisme de connivence. (…a dive into the gaping holes in Indian democracy, a relentless account of the dysfunction of the federated states, undermined by corruption, clientelism, the cult of the personality of elected officials and crony capitalism).” Le Monde

…a critical enquiry into why representative government in India is flagging.Biblio

…strives for an understanding of the factors that enable governments and political parties to function in a way that is seemingly hostile to the interests of the very public they have been elected to serve, a gross anomaly in an electoral democracy.”

M. Rajshekhar’s deeply researched book… holds a mirror to Indian democracy, and finds several cracks.The Hindu

…excels at connecting the local to the national.Open

…refreshingly new writing on the play between India’s dysfunctional democracy and its development challenges…Seminar

A patient mapping and thorough analysis of the Indian system’s horrific flaws…” Business Standard (Image here)

33 മാസം, 6 സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങൾ, 120 റിപ്പോർട്ടുകൾ: ജനാധിപത്യം തേടി മഹത്തായ ഇന്ത്യൻ യാത്ര… (33 months, 6 states, 120 reports: Great Indian journey in search of democracy…)” Malayala Manorama

Hindustan ki maujooda siyasi wa maaashi soorat e hal.” QindeelOnline

What emerges is the image of a state that is extractive, dominant, casteist and clientelist.Tribune

…reporting at its best. The picture that emerges is of a democracy that has been hijacked by vested interests, interested only in power and

Book lists

Ten best non-fiction books of the year“, The Hindu.

Twenty-One Notable Books From 2021“, The Wire.

What has South Asia been reading: 2021 edition“, Himal Southasian


Journalism is a social enterprise…,”

Democratic decay at state level: Journalist M Rajshekhar on book ‘Despite the State’,” The News Minute.

Covid-19 en Inde : “des décès de masse” dont un “État obscurantiste est responsable,” Asialyst.


JP to BJP: The Unanswered Questions“.
Mahtab Alam’s review of “JP to BJP: Bihar After Lalu and Nitish”.

Urban History of Atmospheric Modernity in Colonial India“. Mohammad Sajjad’s review of “Dust and Smoke: Air Pollution and Colonial Urbanism, India, c1860-c1940”.

Westland closure: Titles that are selling fast and a few personal recommendations,” by Chetana Divya Vasudev, Moneycontrol. (Because this happened too. In February, a year after DtS was released, Amazon decided to shutter Westland, which published the book. The announcement saw folks rushing to buy copies of Westland books before stocks run out.)

Time to change tack on counterinsurgency” by TK Arun, The Federal.

All Things Policy: The Challenges of Governing States” by Suman Joshi and Sarthak Pradhan, Takshashila Institute (podcast).

The Future of Entertainment“, Kaveree Bamzai in Open.

On What India’s Watching“, Prathyush Parasuraman on Substack.

The puppeteers around us“, Karthik Venkatesh in Deccan Herald.

Will TN election manifestos continue ‘populist’ welfare schemes?“, Anna Isaac for The News Minute.

Why wages-for-housework won’t help women“, V Geetha in Indian Express.

The poor state of the Indian state“, Arun Maira in The Hindu.

Book discussions

26 December, 2021: Rangashankara, Bangalore, a discussion with Dhanya Rajendran.

16 November: Rachna Books, Gangtok, a discussion with Pema Wangchuk.

29 August: Books In The Time of Chaos, with Ujwal Kumar.

21 May: Hyderabad Lit Fest with Kaveree Bamzai and Aniruddha Bahal.

28 March: Paalam Books, Salem, Tamil Nadu.

19 March: The News Minute, “Citizens, the State, and the idea of India

6 March: Pen@Prithvi, with Suhit Kelkar

20 February: A discussion between scholars Usha Ramanathan, Tridip Suhrud, MS Sriram and me to formally launch Despite the State.

6 February: DogEars Bookshop, Margoa.

5 February: The Polis Project, Dispatches with Suchitra Vijayan.

30 January: Founding Fuel, “Systems Thinking, State Capacity and Grassroots Development“.

25 January: Miranda House Literary Society