(Sandhya Jha, Intern Journalist): On Monday, the Supreme Court held an urgent hearing in the matter of keeping the middle seat vacant in Air India flights engaged in bringing Indians from abroad. The bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde reprimanded the government in the case. The court said, “There are no two types of rules. You talk about keeping a distance of 6 feet outside the flight, but you are giving permission to sit shoulder-to-shoulder inside the flight. The government instead of airlines Should worry about health. “
Air India will have to accept the Bombay High Court order after 6 June
The Bombay High Court had last week ordered the government airline Air India to keep the middle seat vacant for flights coming from abroad under the Vanda Bharat Mission. Air India and the government had challenged the High Court order in the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court has given permission to Air India to fill the middle seat by June 6, but after that the Bombay High Court will have to accept the interim order.
Next hearing on 2 June in Bombay High Court
The Supreme Court has asked the Bombay High Court to issue an interim order after hearing the opinion of all the parties. Also instructed airlines that they should obey the High Court order regarding safety. Also, as long as the matter is pending before the court, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) can change the rules keeping in mind the health and safety of the people rather than commercial thinking. The next hearing of the case will be on 2 June in the Bombay High Court.
Air India pilot filed a petition in the High Court
Pilot Deven Kanani had said in the Bombay High Court that the middle seats were not being kept vacant in flights coming from abroad under the central government’s Vande Bharat Mission. This is a violation of DGCA’s March 23 circular. On the other hand, Air India says that it was for circular domestic flights. He has also been replaced on 22 May.
The debate in the Supreme Court went like this-
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government and Air India, said the old circular was only for domestic flights. Those coming from abroad must be quarantined. Not being able to sit on the middle seat will spoil the plan of many families stranded abroad, as they will not be able to bring the member in the middle seat.
Supreme Court: Is there any difference between international and domestic flights?
Solicitor General: No difference.
Supreme Court: It is a matter of common sense that social distancing is necessary. Nobody is stopping you from bringing people from abroad, the High Court had just asked to keep the middle seat vacant.
Solicitor General: We do not have too many aircraft. The decision not to keep the middle seat vacant was taken after talks with the expert.
Supreme Court: If you take passengers close to each other, then the infection will spread. We are concerned about people’s health. We have asked the Bombay High Court to order interim.
30 thousand Indians returned from overseas under Vande Bharat Mission
The government launched the Vande Bharat Mission on 6 May to bring Indians stranded abroad due to Corona. Under this, people are being brought back from Air India planes. So far, 30 thousand people have returned under this mission.