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COVID19: Delhi HC Suspends Use of Breath Analyser Tests On Air Traffic Controllers

Karan Tripathi
23 March 2020 8:27 AM GMT
COVID19: Delhi HC Suspends Use of Breath Analyser Tests On Air Traffic Controllers
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In light of the corona outbreak, the Delhi High Court has temporarily suspended the usage of Breath Analyser Tests for testing alcohol consumption of air traffic controllers.

The present order has come in a plea seeking directions to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Air Authority of India (AAI) to temporarily suspend the Breath Analyzer Test (BAT) to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

The Single Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh has also directed Director General of Medical Sciences (Air) to call for an urgent meeting tomorrow with Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Air Traffic Controllers Guild, and Airports Authority of India to look for the alternatives of Breath Analyzer Test

Breath Analyzer Test (BAT) was made mandatory as per the directions issued by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on 16.09.2019 to detect consumption of alcohol as a safety measure.

Highlighting the gravity of the concern, the Petitioner argued that mandatory Breath Analyser Test violates their fundamental right to life and health guaranteed under Article 21 as it subjects individuals to plausible danger.

It was further submitted that the DGCA had earlier suspended the breath analyser test during the month of February due to corona outbreak and that even Airport Authority of India had issued circular exempting employees from biometric attendance marking due to possibility of transmission of virus.

The Petitioner also highlighted that the normal procedure of Breath Analyser Test at airport is done in such a manner that employees perform this examination one after the other using only one apparatus.

'This single apparatus is never sanitized or sterilized after each use. Suppose a ground staff who closely interact with the aircraft and passengers is a carrier of COVID19 (dormant stage) who in turn appears for breath analyser examination, she or he can transmit the virus to the Petitioner or other staffs who is next in queue for the test by the usage of infected apparatus', the petition stated.

In light of this, the Petitioner had sought suspension of such activity till the country is officially declared as free from COVID-19 virus. 

"AAI submitted that in view of the concerns raised by the staff at the airports for possible transmission of virus because of the use of the BAT equipments and considering the current situation due to COVID 19, they have already written to DGCA to suspend the use of BAT temporarily till the time situation improves.

The Court directed to convene an urgent meeting with the officers of DGCA, AAI, DGMS and other concerned authorities on 24th March at 11.30 am to come up with an alternative solution.

AAI was represented by Sonal Kumar Singh and Rajat Dasgupta Advocates from AKS Partners."

Last week, the High Court of Kerala had passed a similar order against use of breath analyzers in Cochin International Airport Ltd.

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