15 July 2023 6:25 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has observed that there are sufficient precautionary measures in the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) to safeguard the crew members of aircrafts against “unfortunate false positive results” in breath analyzer tests. Justice Gaurang Kanth added that the Requirements only imposes duty upon the airlines to conduct pre-flight breath analyzer tests and does not put...
The Delhi High Court has observed that there are sufficient precautionary measures in the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) to safeguard the crew members of aircrafts against “unfortunate false positive results” in breath analyzer tests.
Justice Gaurang Kanth added that the Requirements only imposes duty upon the airlines to conduct pre-flight breath analyzer tests and does not put any obligation upon such an airline to conduct blood and urine tests in case of positive results.
Observing that conducting blood and urine tests at an Airport before every flight will not be practical and feasible, the court said:
“The Airlines will have to create infrastructure at every Airport from wherever they operate for conducting blood and urine tests of crew members. This will add additional cost on the operations of Airlines which will further burden them unnecessarily. Thus, in view of this Court, considering the infeasibility and impracticality of conducting blood and urine tests at Airport by operators, CAR does not anywhere put an obligation upon operator to conduct blood and urine test and that is why it only talks about BA Tests.”
It added, “In fact, in the incidents of accidents also, the duty is not of the operator to conduct blood and urine tests, but the duty is imposed upon the Officer-in-Charge of Airport to conduct these tests. With regard to the aspect of false positive, CAR already has laid down procedure so as to eliminate the possibility of false positives.”
The court made the observations while dealing with a plea moved by a pilot of Vistara airlines challenging the orders passed by Director General of Civil Aviation and Joint Director suspending his license for three months.
The pilot was tested positive in the pre-flight breath analyzer test and the equipment used showed a reading of 0.004% alcohol in his blood. He was then asked by Vistara Airlines to submit his pilot license for necessary action.
After having been removed from the flying roster, the pilot conducted tests in two NABL accredited laboratories which indicated that there was no alcohol in his blood and urine. It was his case that the positive result in breath analyzer test was a false positive which had occurred due to error in the equipment. He contended that the blood and urine tests done in laboratories were more reliable in comparison to the breath analyzer test.
Dismissing the plea, the court said that the pilot reported for his flying duty in violation of provisions provided in CAR and Aircraft Rules, 1937 and that his license was rightly suspended by DGCA for three months following the punishment provided in CAR.
“The job of a pilot is a job of responsibility. When he is on duty, he is carrying responsibility of the lives of the passengers and crew members on board of his flight. Any minute error by pilot can turn into a major accident within seconds. Due to this huge responsibility, CAR stipulates the permissible amount of blood alcohol content as "zero‟. The Petitioner should have whole heartedly followed the provisions of CAR and should not have reported for duty after consuming alcohol,” the court said.
Noting that CAR stipulates a procedure which is capable of ruling out false positives in breath analyzer tests, Justice Kanth added that if any false positive will occur in future, then due to the procedure laid down in CAR it will be ruled out by way of second test and control test.
“Further, it is also imperative to note that the present Petition is pending since almost 5 years and no such incident of false positive has occurred with the Petitioner pendente lite. Thus, there are meager chances that as alleged, any such incident of false positive will take place with Petitioner in future,” the court said further.
Case Title: CAPT. AMIT KUMAR YADAV v. UNION OF INDIA AND ORS.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 595
Click Here To Read Order