The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) authorities to accord adequate publicity to its guidelines in order to ensure strict compliance.
A single-judge bench of Justice C Harishankar directed that the DGCA would ensure circulations of these guidelines to all airlines, for strict compliance therewith. Periodical review of the situation should be undertaken, to ensure that no laxity creeps into the system, he said in his direction.
The court also directed that DGCA, the ministry of civil aviation, and the ministry of home affairs, as well as all airlines operating in the domestic sector, should take all steps in order to ensure that these guidelines are complied with. In case the airlines repeatedly fail to ensure compliance with the said guidelines, penal action will be initiated in accordance with the law, the court said.
The high court took the suo moto cognisance after noting an alarming situation on March 5, where people were traveling from Kolkata to Delhi on an Air India flight without wearing a mask.
"To the perception of the court, such a situation, in the present scenario, when the country is seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases after they had shown signs of ebbing, is completely unconscionable."
The court further said that passengers in a flight are in a closed air-conditioned environment, and, even if one of the passengers suffers from COVID-19, the effect on other passengers could be cataclysmic. "It is a matter of common knowledge that being. Within arm's length distance of a COVID carrier, even if he is asymptomatic and is merely speaking, is more than sufficient to transmit the virus."
"It is the duty of each of us to contribute towards this end. Pointing fingers at the central and state governments, who have formidable tasks to deal with, and are doing all they can, is of no use whatsoever. Each of us, as members of a conscious and conscientious citizenry, is required to be sensitive and sensitized in equal measure, and to strain every sinew to keep the pandemic at bay. If the citizenry becomes complacent, no government, howsoever activated and alive to the situation, can help," said the bench.
"It was noticed that, though all the passengers had worn masks, many passengers had worn the masks below their chin and were exhibiting a stubborn reluctance to wear their masks properly. This behavior was seen not only in the bus transporting the passengers from the airport to the flight but also within the flight itself. It was only on repeated entreaties made by me (Justice C Harishankar) to the offending passengers that they condescended to wear their masks properly," it added. (ANI)