Free travel by DGCA officials: Probe on

Ministry issues fresh guidelines issued to stop ‘large-scale misuse’ of free air travel facility

Written by Ajmer Singh | New Delhi | Published: July 30, 2012 12:20:01 am

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has directed DGCA to probe large-scale misuse of free air travel facility by officials of the aviation regulator. A formal inquiry has been ordered following an internal vigilance investigation report being forwarded to the ministry.

In a letter dated July 13,the ministry informed the regulator that the internal inquiry resulted in “serious concerns (being raised) over journeys performed by air under the AIC (Aeronautical Information Circulars) provisions by DGCA officers….’’

The internal inquiry revealed that many DGCA officials flew Air India and other private airlines including Jet Airways,Kingfisher,Indigo and GoAir for purposes other than official.

According to DGCA guidelines,free seats are to be made available to DGCA officials only for on-board inspection as well as conducting checks for maintenance and safety.

The Indian Express had reported on May 30 that DGCA officials had forged papers to issue free air tickets for themselves and their relatives and friends. Hundreds of free seats were allegedly given to DGCA officials every month on the basis of unauthorised/fake AIC certificates,which permitted them free travel on Indian carriers. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had then told The Indian Express that records of the last three years were under scrutiny.

Following the expose,the ministry has now informed the DGCA that air journeys are to be undertaken for the purpose of “securing the safety of aircraft operations” only. Also,only one officer at the level of Joint Director General dealing with the subject matter of safety of the aircraft may be authorised to issue AIC certificates and to keep a record of the same.

Since the investigation done by DGCA’s CVO found that no records were available of the free travel,instructions have now been issued for a record to be kept of the same.

Earlier this year,CVO (DGCA) Samir Sahay,since posted out,had investigated this case and forwarded the report to the ministry.

The ministry quoted from the CVO’s report in its July 13 communication,stating “CVO DGCA has inter alia stated that most of the air journeys were performed by DGCA officers for other official duties other than the purpose for which these are meant”.

The Delhi Police was also asked to investigate DGCA officials for misusing this facility.

A senior DGCA official disclosed that the original AIC guidelines were issued in 1978 and subsequently amended in 1998 and then in 2012. According to the guidelines,all AICs were to be signed by officers of the level of DDG/ JTDG. However,AICs were being signed by lower level functionaries,who would even sign for themselves,issue AIC for their private travel and fly free,he said.

BJP meet on UP

Senior BJP leaders will assemble in Agra on August 5 and 6 for a “Chintan Baithak” being organised to formulate a strategy for Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha elections. Party leaders said such a session exclusively on UP was being organised after nearly seven years. BJP chief Nitin Gadkari,senior leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and Rajnath Singh will attend the meeting. Leaders of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley will also address party workers.

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