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Fixing A Minimum Fare Is To Restrict Travel Only To The Performance Of Essential Journeys: Delhi HC

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Delhi High Court on Thursday rejected a petition preferred challenging the minimum airfares which are fixed by the Government of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation vide their order dated 21st May 2020.

A division bench presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan of Delhi High Court while pronouncing the judgment through video conferencing noted that the problem being faced by everyone during this pandemic situation is such a unique phenomenon which requires experimental solutions. There cannot be any mathematical solution for a problem like this. The government has to be given a degree of free movement in joints.

The bench gave its judgment in a PIL filed by Mr. Veer Vikrant Chauhan challenging the minimum fares which are fixed by the Government of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation vide their order dated 21st May 2020 further seeking appropriate direction to the government regarding the same.

Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that class of Sector-D of the aforesaid order dated 21 st May 2020, wherein, the minimum fare is ₹3,500/, further, a paper book highlighting the fare from Delhi to Kolkata for the flight scheduled for 4th August 2020, cost of which varies from ₹2,924/- to ₹3,153/- and is cheaper than the minimum fare fixed by the aforesaid order dated 21st May 2020. In this regard, he further submitted that the difference in fare prices will lead to the fixation of prices by the cartel of the airlines.

However, the bench stated that “We are not in agreement with this contention made by the learned counsel for the petitioner. It ought to be kept in mind that whenever such type of tariff is fixed by the Government of India in the exercise of the powers conferred under the Aircraft Act, 1934 to be read with rules enacted thereunder, the Courts would be extremely slow in interfering with the same.”

The Court further observed that “The exercise of tariff fixation, and economic matters in general, are issues on which the writ court would generally refrain from exercising jurisdiction unless found to be totally arbitrary or unreasonable.”

The bench has further allowed the petitioner to approach the competent authority while stating that “…the decision shall be taken by the competent authority in accordance with law, rules, regulations and government policy applicable to the facts of the case and without being influenced by the aforesaid observations.”

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-India Legal Bureau

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