SC on in-flight middle seat: Let interim arrangement continue till June 6

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a plea seeking modification of its order, which allowed Air India to fill the middle seats up to June 6 on its non-scheduled flights to bring back Indians stranded in various foreign countries.
A bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishkesh Roy, declined to modify its order. The bench noted whatever they (Centre and Air India) have done; howsoever bad it might be, let that interim arrangement continue for 10 days.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that the Centre has formed a committee to examine the matter. The bench said it trusts the committee will take into account all relevant considerations. The bench insisted that it does not want to add confusion on the matter after it passed an interim order last week.
The observation from the bench came on intervention filed by Deven Kanani, who moved the court seeking modification of the May 25 order in the backdrop of a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the country.
The petitioner argued full occupancy is a serious issue, and it may put passengers and crew at risk of being infected. The bench observed that it had asked the Centre to bring back stranded Indians, and that they are doing it. Mehta contended before the bench that health of the citizens is paramount.
The bench told the petitioner’s counsel to let the Bombay High Court decide the matter. The petitioner sought some urgent order from the top court instead of waiting for the High Court to decide the matter. The bench declined to pass any order and the counsel for the petitioner agreed to withdraw the application.
On May 25, a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said: “We are of the considered view that the petitioner, Air India, should be allowed to operate the non-scheduled flights with the middle seats booking up to 6th June, 2020.”
However, the top court said after this, Air India will operate non-scheduled flights in accordance with the interim order to be passed by the Bombay High Court.
The bench conducted an urgent hearing on Eid holiday, through video conferencing, to hear the appeals of Centre and Air India against the Bombay High Court order.(IANS)

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