SC calls airfare refunds arbitrary, seeks govt reply
Advocate Jose Abraham who represented the petitioner NGO claimed that no airline can deny refund to passengers under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regulations.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 06:59 IST
The Supreme Court Monday questioned the Centre on its decision to restrict full refund of airfare to only those persons who booked tickets during the lockdown period, beginning March 25. The apex court said it was “arbitrary” on the part of the government to exclude persons who booked tickets prior to the lockdown.
The issue was brought to the court in a PIL filed by Pravasi Legal Cell. The NGO challenged the April 16 notification issued by the ministry of civil aviation announcing full refund of air tickets booked during the period from March 24 to April 14, and again from April 15 to May 3, on account of the extended lockdown.
Since the imposition of lockdown, all commercial flight operations, both domestic and international, were banned in the country. This hampered travel plans of those who had booked tickets in advance. And with the government notification in place, the airline operators refused to refund them the airfare.
Advocate Jose Abraham who represented the petitioner NGO claimed that no airline can deny refund to passengers under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regulations. He questioned how the Government order could benefit one class of passengers who booked tickets during the lockdown when citizens who booked prior to that date suffered equally due to the lockdown.
The bench of justices NV Ramana, SK Kaul and BR Gavai was convinced by the petitioner’s grievance. Addressing solicitor general Tushar Mehta through video conferencing, the bench observed, “This seems arbitrary. The relief should be entitled to everyone whose flights were cancelled during the lockdown, irrespective of the period of booking.” The Court directed Mehta to submit a response to the petition.