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Supreme Court Junks Plea Against Air India’s Flying Without Being Occupied

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Supreme Court refused to entertain a pilot’s plea seeking modification of its order.

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a pilot’s plea seeking modification of its order which allowed Air India to fill the middle seats while operating its non-scheduled flights to bring back Indians stranded abroad up to June 6.

An intervention application was filed by Deven Kanani, seeking modification of May 25 order on the ground that there has been spike in number of Covid-19 cases, and even if a single flight (international /domestic) operates with full occupancy then many other passengers and crew are likely to get infected.

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The top court said it does not want to add to the confusion after having passed order earlier this week.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishkesh Roy, while refusing to modify its order, said that whatever they (Centre and Air India) have done, howsoever bad it might be, let that interim arrangement continue for ten days.

Advocate Abhilash Panickar, appearing for the pilot, said that DGCA guidelines on social distancing should be followed and middle seats in the aircraft should be kept vacant.

The bench asked Mr Panickar to approach the Bombay High Court if he wanted to raise any other issue related to the matter.

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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and Air India, said that an expert committee has been appointed to look into the matter.

He said that the health of citizens is paramount and government would take every possible steps to protect them.

The bench said that it trusts the expert committee and hope that it would take into all relevant considerations.

It told the petitioner that the court has asked the Centre and Air India to bring back the stranded Indians and they are doing it.

Now, let the High Court decide the issue finally, the top court said and gave the liberty to the pilot to withdraw the application.

The counsel for the petitioner then agreed to withdraw the application.

The pilot, on whose plea the high court has sought replies from the Centre and Air India, said in his application filed through advocate Tanuj Bagga, before the top court that he is seeking modification of May 25 order as it was an ex-parte order obtained by suppression and misrepresentation.

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