28 Sep 2023 8:10 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a petition challenging the exorbitant air travel fares to and from the Gulf, noting that the petition could be taken up before the High Court instead of being dealt with by the Supreme Court. The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra was hearing the PIL filed by the Kerala Pravasi...
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a petition challenging the exorbitant air travel fares to and from the Gulf, noting that the petition could be taken up before the High Court instead of being dealt with by the Supreme Court. The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra was hearing the PIL filed by the Kerala Pravasi Association challenging Rule-135 of the Indian Aviation Act, which authorises airlines to fix ticket prices.
In its order, the Supreme Court noted–
"Having regard to the nature of the cause of action in the present case, we are of the considered view that it would be appropriate for the petitioners to take recourse to the remedy under Article 226 of the Constitution of India."
Granting liberty to the petitioner to approach the High Court, the petition was disposed of.
Issues Raised in the PIL
The PIL primarily addressed the issue of excessive price increases by airlines for flights to and from the Gulf region. According to the plea, airfares for routes like Dubai to Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram had reached extremely high levels, severely limiting options for passengers. Airlines were charging as much as Rs 1,04,738 for flights to Kochi and up to Rs 2,45,829 for flights to Thiruvananthapuram. These elevated fares were expected to persist until the end of September.
The PIL called for a reduction in airfares and the implementation of a cap on ticket prices. It argued that the current Rule-135 of the Indian Aviation Act grants airlines unchecked authority to set ticket prices, leading to what the Kerala Pravasi Association (KPA) sees as unfair exploitation of Indian travelers and a violation of their right to travel.
The KPA contended that the government had not taken adequate measures to address the anti-consumer practices of airline companies, forcing expatriates to pay between Rs 40,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh for tickets that used to cost Rs 7,000.
The petition also made reference to the government's previous involvement in setting fare caps for domestic flights based on flight duration. Presently, the rule stipulates that flights lasting less than 40 minutes cannot be priced above Rs 2,900 (excluding GST) per passenger, and those exceeding 40 minutes cannot exceed Rs 8,800 (excluding GST) per passenger.
The plea was filed by KMNP Law and argued by Advocate Kuriakose Varghese.
Case Title: Kerala Pravasi Association And Anr. v. Union Of India And Ors W.P.(C) No. 989/2023 PIL-W
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