SC to hear Centre, AI plea on COVID-19 safety norms

SC to hear urgent plea of Centre, Air India on Bombay HC's order on not adhering to safety norms during evacuation of Indians

Supreme Court of India. (Credit: PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday an urgent plea by the Centre and Air India against the Bombay High Court seeking their response on a plea for not maintaining adequate safety measure to check COVID-19 in flights to bring back Indian stranded abroad.

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A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy would take up the matter through video conferencing at 10.30 am on May 25.

The top court is otherwise not sitting on Monday on account of Eid-ul-Fitr.

Two separate petitions have been filed at around 9 pm on Sunday.

Both - the Centre and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Air India - are aggrieved against the Bombay High Court's order of May 24 questioning them over not keeping the middle seat vacant in flights used to bring back stranded Indians from abroad.

A pilot, Deven Yogesh Kanani and others have moved the High Court saying the circular issued on March 23 for keeping the middle seat vacant was not being adhered to by the Air India. The plea claimed the airline neglected the safety protocol.

Special flights were being operated since May 7 to evacuate Indians stuck abroad through Vande Bharat mission. Domestic flights are set to start from May 25.

The Air India counsel claimed the previous circular has been superseded by another circular issued on May 22, allowing the use of middle seat while keeping precautions.

However, the high court felt the May 22 circular apparently applied to the domestic flights. It sought a response from both the Centre and Air India and kept the matter for consideration on June 2.

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