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Middle Seats On Flights Must Be Vacant After 6 June, Says Supreme Court

Although, the remarks by the Supreme Court for international flights also raise concerns about domestic flights started today with all seats occupied. 

New Delhi| Special international flights to resue the Indians stranded in other countries must have the middle seats vacant, the Supreme Court said today, adding that it is a “common sense” that social distancing is important as a precaution against the Covid-19.

Although, the remarks by the Supreme Court for international flights also raise concerns about domestic flights started today with all seats occupied.

“It is common sense that maintaining social distancing is important. Outside, there should be a social distancing of at least six feet, what about inside aircraft,” Chief Justice SA Bobde told Air India, which has been managing the flights from May 7 for the ‘Vande Bharat’ mission to bring back Indians stranded on foreign lands.

Deven Yogesh Kanani, an Air India pilot, had approached the Bombay High Court claiming the circular by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on March 23 for keeping middle seats vacant was not being followed by the special Air India flights flying to bring back Indians. Air India told the high court that the DGCA order has been superseded by a new set of rules put out by the government. The High Court had passed an interim order against selling middle seats on flights.

After the High Court’s order, Air India and the government requested an urgent sitting with the Supreme Court on this issue, which heard the case today.

Representing Air India and government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court that the best practice to tackle the infection of virus is testing and quarantine, “not seat difference”.

“How can you say it will not affect passengers? Will the virus know it’s in the aircraft and it’s not supposed to infect? The transmission will be there if you are sitting next to each other,” the Chief Justice questioned.

When the government’s representative told that bookings were done till 6 June, the court said, “For the next dates – exhaust all bookings and fly in centre seats. After that, don’t fly anyone in centre seats.”

“We make it clear that the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is free to alter any norms he may consider necessary during the pendency of the matter in the interest of public health and safety of the passengers rather than of commercial considerations,” the court further added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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