NGO challenges draft new Civil Aviation Policy in the Delhi High Court

The Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar (SAFMA), an NGO, has filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court challenging the changes in the draft civil aviation policy that seek to waive the existing requirement of five years of domestic operations as a criterion for private airlines to fly abroad on a case-to case basis.

The NGO's counsel, Ajay Veer Singh, has sought the continuance of the rules and norms prescribed in the National Aviation Policy of 2005, which says that only those Indian carriers which have five years of domestic flying experience and have a minimum fleet size of 20 aircraft are allowed to fly overseas.

The petition says the existing policy has been in operation for two years and has shown extremely positive results. Therefore, there is no valid, justifiable or reasonable cause for any amendment. The proposed changes calling for no minimum flying experience and no minimum aircraft are not in sync either with the aviation policy or the security concerns of the country, the PIL says.

The NGO says the proposed amendments, which are pending the approval of the 12-member group of ministers (GoM) headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, has been opposed by the defence, home, external affairs, railways and law ministries, for various reasons.

It says the only rationale put forth by the government to justify the proposed amendments is of reducing the cost of air travel for the general public, ignoring the resultant increase in congestion at airports and air space, which would cause direct physical and indirect financial inconvenience.