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Delhi HC dismisses plea on PPE kits for pilots, crew members

ANI | Updated: Apr 19, 2020 02:30 IST

New Delhi [India], April 19 (ANI): Delhi High Court on Saturday dismissed a plea seeking directions to the respondents to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to the pilots and the other cabin crew members on board the flights, which are operating between India and foreign countries or carrying foreign nationals to their respective countries.
The petition filed by Vaibhav Sharma through his advocate HS Nanda alleged that even if the PPE kits are being issued, they are not enough for the entire crew and are mostly oversized, in contradiction to the safety and security guidelines.
The other issue raised in the petition was that the pilots and the other crew members on these flights, on return, should be quarantined in some hotels, near the airport, instead of home quarantine, where there is a risk of infection to their family members.
Division Bench of Justice JR Midha and Justice Jyoti Singh while dismissing the plea, provide the liberty to the petitioner to give suggestions to the concerned ministries through email.
The Bench also opined that the petitioner has not been able to make out a case for the interference of the court. "The petitioner has not given any material particulars to enable this Court to come to the conclusion that adequate measures are not being taken by the government to extend proper protective kits to the crew members or that the home quarantine measures are having any adverse effects," the court said.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Acharya who appeared for the Centre submitted that permitting these chartered flights is the policy decision of the government, keeping in mind the humane and diplomatic relationships with other countries, and is not liable to be questioned in the present petition.
She further said that several circulars and guidelines have been issued by the various ministries concerned, including the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Home Affairs in this regard.
"Detailed guidelines have been made to ensure that the Airlines take all precautions and measures to minimise the exposure of COVID-19 to the pilots and cabin crew. Strict instructions have been issued to Air India to ensure that they comply with the guidelines in letter and spirit. In keeping with these guidelines, protective gear is being issued by the crew onboard and other health measures are also being strictly adhered to," she said.
The court stressed that the stand of Air India is that COVID-19 is an "unprecedented calamity", which has posed enormous difficulties in the travel of public and created peculiar problems for the aviation industry.
The petitioner also sought directions to concerned authorities to cancel the charter flights being operated only to repatriate foreign nationals risking the lives of our own valuable Indian nationals during this time of COVID -19 pandemic. It had also sought to safeguard and help for the cabin crew members and pilots of Air India, who are yet operating repatriation flights to foreign countries.
The plea also demanded to arrange for a brief training mechanism soon before the rescue flights so the crew can perform their duties wearing the PPE kits in the time of any exigency or emergency.
"The cabin crew members are not trained to perform the safety and security drills wearing the PPE kits which are oversized and flimsy, in the time of exigency, thereby leading to endangering the lives of passengers," it read. (ANI)

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