air traffic controller
air traffic controller
Litigation News

Delhi HC revives breath analyser test for air traffic controllers

In March, the Court had suspended the Breath Analyser Test through tube process for Air Traffic Controllers till further orders.

Aditi Singh

Lifting its earlier order of stay, the Delhi High Court has allowed breath analyser test through tube process for air traffic controllers (ATCs). (Air Traffic Controllers’ Guild (India) vs UOI)

The order was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Navin Chawla in a petition by the Air Traffic Controllers’ Guild (India) which had sought the suspension of the Breath Analyzer Test to prevent any exposure to COVID-19.

The Court was considering a modification application moved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

In March, the Court had suspended the Breath Analyser Test through tube process for ATCs till further orders.

While the Breath Analyser Tests on pilots were conducted at random, they were completely stopped for the ATCs.

Pursuant to the Court's order, a meeting of experts and authorities was held, which concluded that the Breath Analyzer Test was the most efficient and reliable form of detecting alcohol in the breath of the person.

Other methods i.e. testing of blood and urine were neither considered to be practical nor was there any provision for it in any Civil Aviation Requirements (CARs) till date, it was found.

Subsequently, a Medical Board suggested that Breath Analyser be revived with precautionary measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

The Report of the Medical Board recommended that random tests in a day can be conducted and thereafter the machine used for such random tests shall not be used for next 12 hours after the conduct of one test.

Besides the random test, the authorities may also test any person who is suspected to have consumed psychoactive substance, it was suggested.

On the other hand, the Petitioner submitted that the Report did suggest the consideration of other methods for the conduct of Breath Analyser Test and that a gap of at least 24 hours be kept between the single usage of a machine.

After hearing the parties, the Court remarked that it was not an expert in the medical field.

"The Medical Report dated 16.06.2020 is pursuant to the directions issued by this Court and was headed by DGMS (Air) and attended by other Air Force Medical Officers. They are certainly the experts in their field."
Delhi High Court

Thus, in view of the fact that the authorities agreed to take precautionary measures and even reduce the number of tests, the Court concluded that there was no reason to continue with the interim order of stay.

"In the present case, the interests of the ATCs and of the air traveller have to be balanced."
Delhi High Court said.

The Court thus modified the earlier order and noted that authorities shall be bound by the recommendations of the Medical Board.

It also said that the Petitioner Association shall be at liberty to give suggestions/representations to the authorities with regard to further precautionary measures that can be taken.

Advocate Piyush Sanghi appeared for the Petitioner.

DGCA was represented by Advocates Anjana Gosain, Himanshi, Shalini Nair.

Read the Order:

ATC vs UOI - Sept 3.pdf
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