Thursday 16 July 2020 8:24 AM UTC
By A Staff Reporter
LONDON July 16: Passengers those who are travelling by the Air India repatriation flight from London to Kochi via Mumbai on 19th July need not disembark in Mumbai, as per Kerala High Court order yesterday.
Advocate Anitha Mathai Muthirenthy, while representing her vulnerable clients, those who are passengers from London to Kochi wanted confirmation from the Kerala High Court that her clients shouldn’t have to disembark at a stopover airport as they are vulnerable people.
Advocate Anitha Mathai brought to the court’s attention that passengers being allowed on Vande Bharat Mission flights belong to vulnerable groups, such as senior citizens, severely-ill persons, and babies.
During the hearing the counsel, representing the central government had submitted that passengers returning on Vande Bharath Mission flights may have to disembark and board another flight to their home state, depending on the route.
The counsel for the central government submitted that domestic passengers may also board the flight from Mumbai airport. He further stated in court that no assurance could be given whether the passengers will have to disembark or not. He argued that other flights to other states are too operated in the same manner and therefore there isn’t any discrimination and therefore it is upto Air India to decide on this matter.
In reply, the Air India counsel submitted that it only provides ticketing facilities and crew for the Vande Bharath Mission and that all operations and other requirements are as per the decision of the ministry.
In response the Central Government Counsel (CGC) reiterated that it is Air India that has to answer whether passengers from London to Kochi should disembark at the stopover in Mumbai.
By this time Advocate Anitha Mathai, the petitioner’s counsel raised that the central government’s stance is opposed to what the court was told at the earlier hearing which resulted in the High Court judge asking the CGC to place a statement on record.
The statement in writing by the CGC confirmed that no domestic passengers will be allowed to board Vande Bharat Mission flights as against the submission made before the court. The statement also reiterated that it is Air India who schedules the flight.
Finally, yesterday (15th July) the counsel representing Air India submitted in court that the flight scheduled for 19th July does not require deplaning of passengers at any of the transit of airports. The ruling comes as sigh of relief for several other vulnerable passengers travelling from London to Kochi.
The flight on July 10th was also previously confirmed that it should be without deplaning passengers at the stopover airport and it came as a blessing for many.
Several of those stranded travelling from London to Kochi were left in limbo on whether they will have to deplane or not at a stopover airport as was the normal case in some previous occasions.
The order was issued by Justice Anu Sivaraman while hearing a petition filed through advocate Anitha Mathai Muthirenthy.
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