Seven retired pilots, barred from flying non-commercial flights on the ground that they are over 65 years of age, have moved Delhi high court to get their "fundamental right" restored.
A bench of chief justice Deepak Misra and justice Sanjiv Khanna admitted the petition and issued notice to the central government. The petitioners comprise retired professionals from the air force and other established private airlines with thousands of successful flying hours under their belt.
Sanjeev Narula and Sunil Dalal counsel for the pilots said, "The petitioners, veterans in the profession with thousands of flying hours and that too in variety of aircrafts, cannot be denied their fundamental right to livelihood by restricting their privileges. Moreover, they are physically and mentally fit."
They told the court that the petitioners were employed with private organisations, public sector units, state governments, who had their private aircrafts. They were flying such aircrafts for non-commercial flight operations, that is, no fee was being charged from the passengers in the aircraft. "The government has eaten into their right to earn an honest livelihood," they said.
According to the new amendment in Aircraft Rules, the pilots who have attained the age of 65 years could not be employed for the purpose of flying private aircrafts on non-commercial flight operations even as co-pilots.
The counsel contended before the court that the government has declined to allow the petitioners to undergo Class I medical tests for determining their medical fitness, which is a pre-requisite for ascertaining the instrument rating to fly an aircraft. "They are experienced pilots holding ALTP (Air Line Transport Pilot) License. They have been pilots for the last 35 to 40 years," said the petitioners' counsel.