The High Court of Kerala on Wednesday issued notice on a plea filed by two law students Sivadath. M.Menon and Aravind Chandran K.P of Government Law College, Kozhikode, who are primarily aggrieved by the notification dated 16.04.2020 of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for denying full refund to tickets booked before lockdown for travel during the period for which lockdown was imposed subsequently.
A single bench of Justice V G Arun sought the responses of DGCA, Air India and Indigo Airlines.
The petitioners urge that the DGCA notification dated 16.04.2020 artificially classifies Air Line passengers on the basis of date of booking, date of payment and date of travel for the purpose of giving full refund of the Air Tickets. The notification states that only two category of passengers are entitled for full refund of Air Tickets - the first category comprise passengers who had booked tickets between 25.03.2020 and 14.04.2020 and where the respective airline had received the full payment towards the ticket between 25.03.2020 and 14.04.2020 and the second category comprising of passengers who had booked tickets (domestic or international) between 25.03.2020 and 14.04.2020 for travelling between 15.04.2020 and 03.05.2020, where the respective airline had received the full payment towards the ticket between 25.03.2020 and 14.04.2020.
The petitioners who booked tickets on 12.02.2020 to travel to Delhi on 24.05.2020 and booked return tickets on 03.04.2020 to travel to back on 06.06.2020 do not fall within in these categories. This is challenged as "arbitrary and unlawful cancellation violative of Article 14 of the Constitution".
The petitioners contend that the passengers who could not travel on flights due to lockdown forms a indivisible homogeneous class.
Further, the petitioners questioned the default credit shell mechanism in Indigo Airlines wherein a substantial amount of the ticket fare automatically pipes into the credit shell of the passenger upon cancellation of the tickets. The petitioners also point out that the non transfer-ability of credit shell coupled with its 1 year validity puts the interest of the petitioners at peril as they are not frequent air travellers. It is also pointed out that the default credit shell mechanism is contrary to the Civil Aviation Rules under the Air Craft Act, 1934.
The policy of Air India Ltd which provides full refund to only those passengers who had booked prior to 25.05.2020 for travelling between 25.05.2020 and 31.05.2020 is also contested by the petitioners.
The petitioners are represented by Advocates Gajendra Singh Rajpurohit, Akhil George, Thanseela M.B, Karthik Rajagopal and Mahesh Chandran.