The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation on a petition seeking that airlines, both domestic and international, be directed to grant full refund on the tickets cancelled after all flights were grounded due to the COVID19.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprising of Justices SK Kaul and BR Gavai, while hearing the matter through video conferencing, making an oral observation said that the non-refund on the tickets booked for air travel after lockdown was “arbitrary.”
The plea has been moved by Pravasi Legal Cell. The plea urged the top court to declare non-refund of the amount of the tickets by airlines as illegal and violative of the Civil Aviation Requirement issued by the DGCA.
The petitioner contended that airlines, instead of providing full refund of the amount collected for cancelled tickets, are providing a credit shell, valid up to one year.
Justice Kaul, during the hearing observed that non-refund of those tickets booked for air travel after lockdown was initiated was arbitrary.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation, on 16 April, issued an office memorandum directing all airline operators to refund full amount collected for all tickets booked during the first phase of lockdown period (15 March to 14 April)
The Petition mentions that there should be no need for a passenger to request a refund, because it is duty of the airlines to start refund process immediately after flight cancellation.
The petition also highlights that the Office Memorandum “leaves out the vast majority of passengers who had booked tickets before the flights were banned and thus indirectly approves the practice of the airlines providing credit shell for booking effected before the lockdown, though the same clearly violates the refund rules of Directorate General of Civil Aviation(DGCA).”
-India Legal Bureau
Pic Credit: Getty