New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday allowed
the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to go ahead with its
decision take over ground handling services from private
airlines at airports across the country.
Dismissing a petition filed by private airlines
challenging the DGCA`s decision, a division bench of Chief
Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan today said the
alteration in the DGCA`s rule was not unjust and illegal.
"We perceive no merit in the writ petition and
accordingly the writ petition and all the interim applications
stand dismissed," the court said.
Accepting the centre`s argument that the decision was
taken on security reasons as the safety and security of
general public is paramount, the court rejected the contention
of the airlines that security facet has been introduced to
curtail their commercial interests.
Earlier, the bench had directed the airlines to restrain
their ground handling staff from 13 security-related functions
including access to aircraft, screening of baggages and
aircraft security search.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had through
a circular on June, 2010, prohibited the airlines to provide
groundhandling services where there is no passenger interface,
citing security reasons.
Filing a petition, the Federation of Indian Airlines, an
apex body, challenged the government`s decision to implement
the groundhandling policy from January this year.
The airlines have claimed they themselves could
efficiently manage ground-handling services for their
aircraft, which they are doing now, and sought the court to
declare the government`s new rule as null and void as it would
hamper their business interests.
The airlines body also contended that groundhandling
constitutes an integral part of any airlines` business and it
was one of the main and unique features of the each airlines.
Rejecting the contention of the airlines, the bench said
"the said argument (of the airlines) is not acceptable as
there is a distinction between an airport operator and an
The bench accepted the government`s argument that
groundhandling of flights at airports has become a matter of
concern in the light of increasing terrorism activities.
"Groundhandling of flights at Indian airports became a
matter of grave concern against the backdrop of international
terrorism which witnessed hijacking of Indian Airline
passengers, carrying shoe bombs, liquid explosives, etc.....,"
the Centre had argued.
The policy, announced in 2007, aimed at bringing down the
number of agencies handling the job at six major airports in
the country to three. However, the implementation of the
policy has been deferred twice.