Take strict action against face mask violators, review guidelines: Delhi HC

In compliance with the Centre’s instructions for the Covid situation, the Delhi High Court on July 18 said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) should review its guidelines for face masks on flights. The Court further said that it is not the court’s job to issue directions on the subject to the aviation watchdog.

“We are not experts on the subject. The government of India and ICMR is… The DGCA will look into this and pass appropriate orders,” a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said. The court was dealing with a suo motu plea pertaining to violations of social distancing norms and Covid protocols by passengers at airports.

Last month, the court stressed for strict implementation of Covid-19 guidelines at airports, asking the DGCA to take severe action including placing passengers on a ‘no-fly list’ for not wearing masks and violating hygiene norms.

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“DGCA should issue separate binding guidelines authorising staff at airports, flights, captains, pilots, etc. to take strict action against passengers and others violating masking and hand-hygiene norms. Such persons should be booked and fined and placed on the no-fly list,” the bench stated in the last hearing.

In the course of the hearing, it also said that the rules must be enforced. “Violators should be removed physically if need be,” it said.

It also directed pilots to take strict action against those violating masking and hand hygiene norms inside the aircraft. Noting that the mask is already a norm on flights, the bench said that it is meant to reduce the Covid threat, pointing out that one can take it off while eating or drinking.

Appearing on behalf of the DGCA, advocate Anjana Gosain apprised that the relaxation to remove the mask has been provided only during meals. Counsel further said that none of the Covid guidelines were diluted and appropriate directions were issued in compliance with an earlier order.

The suo motu complaint was based on the personal experience of Justice C. Harishankar, who was travelling on a Kolkata-New Delhi flight last year when he noticed his fellow passengers refused to wear masks and violated Covid appropriate behaviour even after repeated requests.

(With inputs from IANS)

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