The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in a special sitting on 25.05.2020 allowed Air India to operate non-scheduled flights with center seat bookings till 06.06.2020 only after that the Air India will have to comply the interim order to be passed by the Bombay High Court thereafter. The Matter was heard before Hon’ble Chief Justice Mr. A.S. Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy.
The abovementioned order is passed in light of the difficulties faced by the individuals who are stranded in foreign land at the airport having valid tickets to travel and, in some cases, the travel plans of families is disrupted as they cannot continue to travel because family member who possess middle seat have to be off loaded and remain behind.
Further, Hon’ble Supreme Court requests to Bombay High Court to pass an effective interim order after hearing all concerned on the date fixed by it, viz. 02.06.2020, or soon after that. Hon’ble Supreme Court opines that given the circumstances it is important that the High Court arrives at prima facie finding regarding the safety and health of the passengers amid the COVID-19, whether the flight is scheduled flight or a non-scheduled flight and order accordingly.
Further, the Apex Court clarifies that the Director General of Civil Aviation is free to alter any norms as he deems necessary meanwhile the pendency of matter in the interest of public health and safety of the passengers rather than of commercial consideration.
The circular dated 23.03.2020 instruct the airlines to vacate the middle seats in the aircraft in order to maintain the social distancing norms. In this extra ordinary situation, it appears to be difficult to operate flights in accordance to the circular given that the passengers travelling with family as well the passengers stranded alone abroad are more in numbers. The order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court would help in to operate in more fast and efficient way.