coronavirus update indiaas on : 22 September 2020 06:08 GMT+5:30
Supreme Court: "After 6 June,Middle Seats On Flights Must Be Vaccant"
No middle seats allowed after 10 days for Air India flights bringing back Indians, says Supreme Court
Supreme Court: "After 6 June, Middle Seats On Flights Must Be Vacant
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said that Special international flights to repatriate Indians should have vacant middle seats and tickets for that seat can't be sold after 10 days, commenting that it was "common sense" that social distancing is important.
The top court remarks also raise questions about domestic flights that 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 operating the "Vande Bharat" flights to bring back Indians stranded abroad due to virus shutdowns.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on behalf fo the national carrier and government had said that the best practice is testing and quarantine,"not seat difference".
Mr. Mehta said that the decision not to have vacant middle seats was taken following a meeting held with experts.
"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 said.
When told by the government that booking was done till June 16, the court said: "For the next dates - exhaust all bookings and fly in centre seats. After that, don't fly anyone in centre seats."
The court also said that the government could change its rules while the case was on, giving decision-makers a way of reworking their guidelines on flights.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri lask week had ruled out keeping middle seats vacant for domestic flights that resumed today, pointing out that airfares would shoot up.
An Air India pilot, Deven Yogesh Kanani, has approached the Bombay High Court saying a circular by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on March 23 for keeping the middle seat vacant was not being followed by Air India for its special flights since May 7 to bring back Indians.
Air India and the government then requested an urgent sitting of the Supreme Court, which heard the case today on Eid holiday.Meanwhile, the Top Court has urged the High Court to decide on the case on June 2