Thursday, September 03, 2020

HC allows breath analyser test through tube process on air traffic controllers

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Thursday allowed breath analyser test through the tube process for air traffic controllers (ATCs) that was earlier suspended in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The high court modified its March 23 interim order suspending breath analyser test (BAT) through the tube process for ATCs, saying the DGCA will be bound by the June 16 recommendations of the medical board.

Justice Navin Chawla allowed the application of DGCA seeking modification of the earlier order and to implement the medical report of Directorate General of Medical Services (DGMS).

As per the DGMS medical board's recommendation, one machine would be used per person and not again for the next 12 hours.

The court said the interest of ATCs and passengers has to be balanced and noted that BAT is being presently conducted on pilots also in a restricted manner and the medical report has been given by those who are experts in their fields.

“With the respondent (DGCA) taking all precautionary measures and restricted testing, this court finds no reason to continue with the March 23 order.

The interim order shall stand modified to the extent that respondent no.

2 (DGCA) will be bound by the recommendations of the medical board till further orders,” the high court said.

The DGCA's application was filed in pending petition by the Air Traffic Controllers' Guild (India), represented through Advocates Piyush Sanghi and Khushbu Sahu, seeking direction to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to temporarily suspend the BAT through the current tube process to prevent further spread of the virus.

The petitioner had said that on a random basis 10 per cent of the ATCs are subjected to the BAT, which uses equipment that could result in the spread of COVID-19.

DGCA, in its interim application, said in pursuance to the high court's earlier order, DGMS (Air) had convened a meeting with representatives from DGCA and AAI to formulate the alternative protocol to conduct the BAT and it was concluded that BAT is the most efficient and reliable form of detecting alcohol in the breath of the person.

It said the other methods, that is, testing of blood and urine are neither considered to be practical nor there is any provision in any Civil Aviation Requirements (CARs) till date.

Advocate Anjana Gosain, representing DGCA, submitted that it has been decided to accept the June 16 medical report and implement it by conducting random tests in a day by the concerned airline in terms of the protocol.

The court was informed by a DGCA official that keeping in view the risk involved, random tests are being done on pilots but no ATCs were tested due to the high court's stay order.

It further said as per the recommendations, once the BAT machine is used for testing an ATC or cabin crew member, it would not be used again for the next 12 hours.
03/09/20 PTI/New Indian Express
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