The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Air India to provide data of Indians, who were not infected while they boarded special flights under the Vande Bharat Mission, but tested positive for Covid-19 after landing in India.
A bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade was hearing a plea filed by Air India pilot Deven Kanani, who alleged that the national carrier had violated social distancing norms while evacuating Indians stranded abroad on the special flights. The plea was filed through advocate Abhilash Panickar.
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, representing DGCA and Air India, said the special flights had followed all safety and social distancing norms to prevent Covid-19 spread. He added that Air India, Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA had taken all precautions for passengers seated in the middle seats. Along with three-layered masks, passengers were also provided other protective equipment like face shields, Mehta told the court.
Following a May 25 order by the Supreme Court, DGCA had asked carriers to try to keep the middle seats on flights vacant or provide “wrap-around gowns” to passengers who are allotted such seats. During the earlier hearing in HC, lawyers Abhinav Chandrachud, Arsh Mishra and Kavita Anchan – representing Air India – had argued that the DGCA circular was not applicable for unscheduled commercial flights and therefore, the plea was not valid in the case of Vande Bharat Mission. On Tuesday, the Union government, through Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, sought that the Ministry of Civil Aviation be made a party to the case. To this, the court said that it would decide after hearing an application from the ministry.
The court, while directing all parties to file their written arguments by Wednesday evening, posted further hearing on Thursday. It also asked the authorities to place before it details regarding data pertaining to evacuated passengers, during the next hearing.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines