The Delhi High Court on Tuesday, March 9, raised concerns over the "alarming situation" where people travelling from Kolkata to Delhi on an Air India flight did not wear masks nor followed social distancing amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
The High Court issued guidelines to all domestic airlines and DGCA ordering strict compliance, including penal action for offenders and frequent checks of the aircraft, reported India Today.
Justice C Harishankar said, "Such a situation, in the present scenario, when the country is seeing a resurgence of Covid-10 cases, after they had shown signs of ebbing, is completely unconscionable."
"Passengers in a flight are in a closed air-conditioned environment, and, even if one of the passengers suffers from Covid, the effect on other passengers could be cataclysmic," the judge said.
The court stated that passengers wore masks below their chin and many were reluctance to wear their masks properly.
It is a matter of common knowledge that being within arm's length distance of a Covid carrier, even if he is asymptomatic and is merely speaking, is more than sufficient to transmit the virus, the court's order read.
While travelling to Kolkata, on March 5, Justice C Harishankar noticed that passengers were not listening to the directions of the flight attendants nor following any safety protocols to curb the spread of the virus.
The HC asked DGCA to make the instructions including the guidelines and safety protocols for all passengers and in-flight crew available on its website.
"The in-flight announcements which, presently, merely require the passengers to wear masks at all times, should be modified to include a cautionary word regarding the penal action that could be taken against them in the event of default," the court's order said.
"In order to ensure compliance, DGCA may consider sending random observers on flights, without prior information, who would check to ensure that the Covid-19 protocols are followed in flight. Strict enforcement of all penal provisions, which could visit delinquent passengers who refuse to abide by the Covid protocols to be maintained in flight, should be ensured. There should be no relaxation whatsoever in that regard," it added.