Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., gave directions in the matter of three petitions relating to the Breath Analyzer Test (“BAT”) which Air Traffic Controllers (“ATCs”) and commercial pilots have to undergo prior to joining duty at the airports.

WP(C) 2946 of 2020 was filed by the petitioners which is the representative association of the ATCs working under the Airport Authority of India (“AAI”), they submitted that on a random basis 10% of the ATCs are subjected to the BAT which uses equipment that could result in the spread of the COVID-19 virus thus the use of the current equipment for conducting the BAT was prejudicial to the interests of the ATCs. The Court on 23-03-2020 as an interim measure had suspended the use of BATs until further orders. It had also tendered an assurance from all ATCs that they would provide a self-declaration that they would not report to duty under the influence of alcohol, as per the prevalent regulations. The court had also directed the constitution of a technical committee under the DGMS (Air) and had sought a report. The interim order was thereafter modified vide order dated 03-09-2020, after considering the report of the Committee.

WP(C) 4990 of 2021 was recently filed by the Indian Commercial Pilots Association owing to the recent spurt of Covid-19 infections that have been witnessed in India. The Petitioner sought exemption for commercial pilots, from undergoing the BATs.

WP(C) 5122 of 2021 was the third petition filed by Air Traffic Controllers guild, seeking immediate halt on the administration of the BAT, which could increase their chance of contracting COVID-19.

On 27-04-2021 the e Medical Committee formed by the DGMS (Air) had submitted a report to the Court and on 05-05-2021 after perusing the report of the DGMS (Air) and the Committee certain directions were issued by the Court and a further report was called for, pursuant to which DGMS (Air) had filed a report where the queries put to them have been answered.

Counsel appearing for DGCA submitted that as per the report an attempt shall be made in all the airports, to conduct the Breath Analyzer test in an open area, as far as possible. Even in the places where testing in the open area was not possible, it shall be ensured that the room where the testing was done, shall be sanitized after each test was undertaken. She further submitted that in addition, the DGCA has taken a decision, to the effect that not more than 6 persons shall be tested in one hour.

The Court observed that two reports of the DGMS (Air) also do not recommend heavy testing through Breath Analyser method, owing to the prevalent circumstances. The Court further issued certain directions stating that the testing for alcohol cannot be completely exempted in as much as the same could be detrimental to passenger safety.

  • All the personnel shall be bound to give an undertaking and a declaration that they have not been exposed to alcohol consumption in the last 12 hours before duty, in terms of the DGCA’s applicable regulations. The said undertakings and declarations would be compulsory for all personnel.
  • After the undertakings are given, insofar as the administration of the Breath Analyser test is concerned, the doctor and any other paramedic/nursing personnel on duty, would take a Rapid Antigen Test prior to joining the duty, in the testing area, to ensure, as far as possible, that they do not have COVID-19 and they are also not likely to transmit it, being asymptomatic.
  • The DGCA shall direct that the Breath Analyser test at all airports would to the extent feasible be conducted in a much bigger and an open area, which has CCTV coverage and not in a small enclosed space, as shown in the photograph today. This would ensure that the exposure of aerosoles is also reduced for the personnel, who are tested.
  • The testing shall be random for all personnel i.e. ATCs, pilots, cabin crews and other personnel. However, insofar as the pilots and cabin crew are concerned, there will be a 5% cap on the number of personnel who are tested, for a period of 3 months. The same can be revised by the end of 3 months, depending upon the prevalence of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Insofar as the testing area is concerned, as submitted by ld. Counsel for DGCA, not more than 6 personnel shall be tested within the duration of one hour.
  • The testing equipment shall be subjected to UVCA radiation, as per the protocols already prescribed by the DGCA, which were considered by the Committee appointed by DGMS (Air).

DGCA was directed to issue a comprehensive guideline/order urgently, which should contains all the requirements and the protocols to be followed for administration of Breath Analyser Test, in one document and should be circulated to all the airports and the airlines, across the country to be adhered to uniformly.

[Air Traffic Controllers Guild (INDIA) v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 2084, decided on 11-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Counsel for the Petitioners: Ms Khushbhu Sahu & Mr Piyush Sanghi

Counsel for the Respondents: Ms Anjana Gosain & Ms Shalini Nair with Mr Anand Pandey, DDRI (DGCA) & Mr Manish Kumar, Deputy Director General (DGCA). Mr Sonal Kumar Singh and Mr Rajat Dasgupta, Advocate for R-3

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Home Affairs Order the following amendment in the guidelines on lockdown measures for strict implementation by Ministries/Departments of Government of India, State/UTs and State/ Union Authorities:

Amendment 

In para 2 (i), ‘domestic air travel passengers’ is deleted from the list of prohibited activities. Detailed guidelines of airports and air travel passengers, will be issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Access the Order here:

MHA ORDER


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Order dt. 20-05-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has issued a detailed Circular on 15-03-2019  to strengthen the Security measures at the airports with an aim to curb the movement of unauthorized arms, contraband goods, cash/bullion, etc. This is in the wake of the announcement of Model Code of Conduct for the forthcoming General Elections 2019.

Some of the important instructions are as follows: 

1. Apart from measure to strengthen the security at the regular commercial airports, special measures have been introduced to check flights from Uncontrolled/Remote/unserved / airstrips /aerodromes /Helipads /private airstrips/Waterdromes.

2.Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and AAI/ATC shall inform State Police, BCAS and Income Tax Department about these flights in advance.

3. The Air Traffic Control (ATC) shall share records of not only Scheduled Commercial Flights but also private aircrafts or helicopters to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the State and the DEO of the district, in which the airport is located, about the travel plan of chartered aircrafts or helicopters as early as possible, preferably half an hour in advance.

4.DGsP of States shall deploy Police Units to check these flights during Code of Conduct as per the direction of Election Commission and extant rules and regulations of BCAS in this regards.

5. The operators of all private aircrafts/Helicopters must declare the contents of the baggage, suitcases, etc, carried on these flights to CEO of the states, DEOs of the districts, state police and IT Department.

6. With an aim to keep strict vigil over movement of cash through all airports Income Tax Department and CISF will be extended all requisite cooperation for checking and surveillance activities. This will be over and above what CISF is otherwise doing.

Officers of BCAS will be conducting surprise inspections of these airports to check the compliance of these instructions.

Ministry of Civil Aviation


Image Credits: http://www.bcasindia.nic.in/