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Delhi High Court Refuses To Entertain Air Traffic Controllers' Plea Concerning 'Breath Analyser Tests' Amid Covid-19

Suhavi Arya
20 Jan 2022 10:48 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Refuses To Entertain Air Traffic Controllers Plea Concerning Breath Analyser Tests Amid Covid-19
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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by the Air Traffic Controller Guild India against the random breath analyser tests conducted on 5% controllers on duty at the airports.Citing the surge in Covid-19 cases, the petitioner had objected to conducting of the breath analyser test in closed enclosures and had sought the cap to be brought down to 2%.However, noting that...

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by the Air Traffic Controller Guild India against the random breath analyser tests conducted on 5% controllers on duty at the airports.

Citing the surge in Covid-19 cases, the petitioner had objected to conducting of the breath analyser test in closed enclosures and had sought the cap to be brought down to 2%.

However, noting that only 3-4 Air Traffic Controllers are being tested in view of the 5% cap, Justice V Kameswar Rao was of the opinion that there is no reason to entertain the petition.

The petitioner had raised an issue on the manner the breath analyser test is being carried out in a closed enclosure. He states that it is not only the Air Traffic Controllers but even the cabin crew and the ground staff positioned at the Airports, are being tested in the same facility. 

Advocate Anjana Gosain, appearing for Directorate General of Civil Aviation submitted that the authority has reviewed the process of carrying out the breath analyser test and decided to retain the cap at 5%. Further, a Medical Board has been constituted to examine the health condition of the Traffic Controllers from time to time.

She also submitted that the cabin crew and even the ground staff are tested separately.

Advocate Digvijay Rai, appearing for the Airports Authority of India stated that 60-70 air controllers are posted at Delhi and Bombay Airports who perform their duties, on a given day, in three shifts and 5% cap comes to 3-4 controllers, who are subject to breath analyser test. After that, the testing area and equipment is sanitised for the next set of testing.

Similarly, in other Airports only 10 to 15 Air Traffic Controllers are in position and roughly 1-2 Controller (s) are put to breath analyser Test.
Accordingly, he argued that the apprehension expressed by the petitioner is totally misplaced.

Accepting these submissions, the Court dismissed the plea. It added,

"It is made clear that the respondents shall continue to scrupulously follow the directions given by this Court in the order dated May 11, 2021, and any infraction shall be taken very seriously."

In its May 11 order, the Court had directed:

-Breath Analyser test at all airports would be conducted in a open areas with CCTV coverage.
-The testing shall be random for all personnel i.e. ATCs, pilots, cabin crews and other personnel.
-Insofar as testing area is concerned, not more than 6 personnel shall be tested within the duration of one hour.
-The testing equipment shall be subjected to UVCA radiation.

Case Title: Air Traffic Controllers Guild India v. Directorate General Civil Aviation, WP (C ) 1122/2022

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