Delhi High Court has recently rejected a PIL seeking to challenge the decision of the Central Government to set minimum fare for air travel.
While noting that there cannot be any mathematical solution for problems faced during the pandemic, the Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan observed that the court generally refrain from exercising jurisdiction in issues like exercise of tariff fixation, and economic matters in general, unless found to be totally arbitrary or unreasonable.
The said order was passed in a PIL filed by Mr Veer Vikrant Chauhan, seeking the court’s direction to quash the order dated 21/05/20 by the Ministry of Civil Aviation which fixes minimum air fare for travel from point A to point B.
The Petitioner had in addition demanded the applicability of Minimum Fare to air Travel Ports and Travel Agents and other Agents who are selling tickets.
The Petitioner highlighted that the fare from Delhi to Kolkata for the flight scheduled for 4th August, 2020, cost of which vary from ?2,924/- to ?3,153/- is cheaper than the minimum fare fixed in air travel by the aforesaid order of the government.
While disagreeing with the contentions raised by the Petitioner, the court noted that whenever such type of tariff is fixed by the Government of India in exercise of the powers conferred under the Aircraft Act, 1934, the Courts would be extremely slow in interfering with the same.
The court also highlighted that it is not sitting in appeal against decisions of the government in fixing minimum or maximum wages.
While observing that the minimum fare is prescribed so as to strike a balance between the passengers and the the airlines agency, the court noted that fixing fares of air travel is a complex phenomenon and a policy decision to be taken by the Government.
Adding that if the petitioner has any grievancehe can approach the competent authority who will deal with the same in accordance with law, the court said in the matter of air travel :
‘It ought to be kept in mind that this fixation of minimum and maximum fares is for the journey to be performed only for essential purposes. Section 8B(1) of the Aircraft Act, 1934 specifically clothes the Central Government with the power to take necessary measures to minimise the possible danger to public health in the event of outbreak of any dangerous epidemic.’
Read the order here: