Saturday, May 23, 2020

HC allows Air India pilot to challenge new rule that does not mandate vacant middle seat

The Bombay High Court Friday directed a pilot of Air India to challenge the new circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), through which its March 23 order to maintain a vacant seat between two passengers in flights was withdrawn.

The pilot had earlier moved the HC challenging the national airline’s initial decision not to keep a seat between two passengers vacant for emergency flights that were arranged to bring back stranded Indians from abroad through the Centre’s Vande Bharat Mission, and stated that it was in violation of the March 23 circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The court had held that Air India was in violation of the DGCA directive and had asked the airline to file a detailed response explaining its stand. However, when it was informed that the March 23 order of the DGCA had been withdrawn and a new circular issued, the court granted liberty to the pilot to amend his plea with challenge to the new circular.

A division bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and Abhay Ahuja heard the matter through videoconference. The plea, filed by Commander Deven Kanani through his advocate Abhilash Panickar, stated that during the Vande Bharat Mission flights, the national air carrier did not maintain physical distancing norm and filled all seats, endangering lives of the passengers.
23/05/20 Omkar Gokhale/Indian Express
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