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Middle seat in flights: SC says govt should be more worried about health of citizens than airlines

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The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday questioned the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Air India for allowing passengers to book middle seats on international flights as it puts social distancing at risk.

SC said the government should be “more worried” about the citizens than the health of airlines.

While Supreme Court has allowed all bookings till June 15 to exhaust, it has asked Bombay High Court to pass necessary orders to discourage airlines from taking bookings for middle seats on international flights.

It may be noted that the SC hearing comes after Centre and Air India challenged a Bombay High Court order to not take bookings for middle seats on planes scheduled to fly from Monday. However, SC was not happy with the Centre and Air India’s plea.

“Shoulder to shoulder sitting is dangerous,” said the SC bench while hearing the matter.

Replying to solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who represented the Centre in the matter, SC judges disagreed and asked, “How can you say it will not affect? Will the virus know it is in an aircraft and that it is not supposed to infect passengers?”

“The transmission will be there if you are sitting next to each other.”

The judges’ comment came after Mehta tried explaining to them that all passengers will be quarantined compulsorily for 14 days and that the plea comes in the wake of several thousands of Indian nationals stranded abroad.

The judges also added that they will keep the matter pending for now till the Bombay High Court passes a fresh order in the matter.

They also said there should be no difference between domestic and International flight seating arrangement rules in the wake of the pandemic.

“There should not be a difference. It is common sense that maintaining social distancing is important,” said the SC bench.

Coronavirus Pandemic: With over 1.38 lakh cases & 4,000 deaths, India tenth most affected nation