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Howsoever bad it might be, let that interim arrangement continue for 10 days: Supreme Court refuses to entertain review of Air India order

Debayan Roy

While hearing an application for review of its earlier order in the Air India relief flights case, the Supreme Court observed that the Centre's suggested arrangement would continue for 10 days.

This, after Avocate Abhilash Panickar who filed the application for interim directions prayed that "infection was spreading everyday". Advocate Panicker submitted,

"My Lords, with each flight, the infection of COVID-19 is spreading. Yesterday, an entire crew of Air India was grounded."

However, the Court said that it was not inclined to review its earlier order allowing Air India to carry out the operation of relief flights without leaving vacant seats, for ten days.

"We asked them to bring back stranded Indians and they are doing it now. Whatever they have done (Centre), howsoever bad it might be, let that interim arrangement continue for 10 days," CJI SA Bobde observed.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also apprised the Court that after the Court's order passed on Monday, a committee of experts was formed to examine the matter.

"Health of citizens is paramount," submitted SG Mehta.

The application by Panickar was withdrawn with liberty to approach the High Court.

The Bench of CJI Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy had passed May 25 order while hearing a plea filed by the Centre through the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), seeking a stay on the order of the Bombay High Court of May 22.

After hearing the matter via video conferencing, the Supreme Court had said that it was not inclined to interfere in the order passed by the High Court. However, on account of the difficulties pointed out by the Centre in implementing the interim order, Air India was allowed to carry out its operation of non-scheduled flights with full capacity for ten days.

With this partial relief, the Supreme Court remanded the matter to the Bombay High Court to hear and decide the case finally. The Supreme Court had also requested the High Court to pass effective interim orders on the next date of hearing. The Court further allowed DGCA to revise or alter any norms in the meantime.

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