PIL Seeks Full Refund Of Flight Tickets Cancelled During Lockdown, Supreme Court Issues Notice
The waiting area for passengers in Terminal 2 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

PIL Seeks Full Refund Of Flight Tickets Cancelled During Lockdown, Supreme Court Issues Notice

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition asking airlines to offer full refunds for flight tickets cancelled after travel curbs were imposed to contain the spread of the Covid19 pandemic.

A bench headed by Justice NV Ramanna issued notice to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, asking them to file their reply to the petition, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

The petition, filed by Pravasi Legal Cell, argues that airlines instead of providing the “full refund for tickets due to cancellation are offering a credit shell, valid up to one year, which is clear in violation of the Civil Aviation Requirement of May 2008 issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation". The airlines, according to the petitioner, are using an optional mechanism available to customers, and it can’t be a default practice for carriers.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s direction of April 16 orders full refund on flight tickets booked while the lockdown was in effect, and leaves out those who had booked tickets for travel during the lockdown period before it was announced, the petition says.

In today’s hearing, Justice SK Kaul asked the Solicitor General how the government can discriminate against passengers who booked the tickets prior to the lockdown, said Advocate Jose Abraham, part of the legal team for the petitioners.

“There is no question of anyone booking a ticket during the lockdown period knowing the fact that schedule passenger flights were cancelled for the period of travel,” says the petition. “This makes the office memorandum of the Ministry of Civil Aviation ambiguous and devoid of any logic.”

The DGCA on March 23 suspended domestic flights first till March 31 and later extended it to April 14 and then May 3. Cargo flights are allowed.

The court will take up the case again after the government files its reply.

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