SC Appoints Amicus Curiae to Examine Ban on Spray of Disinfectants in Aircraft, Calls Issue Important

The Centre had moved the top court after an order of the Delhi High Court, which gave it three months to implement the reservation in promotion based on quantifiable data on adequacy of representation of the SC/STs.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the validity of a complete ban on spray of disinfectants in aircraft while passengers are on board, terming the issue as important.

It has appointed senior advocate Meenakshi Arora as amicus curiae in the matter, while also requesting Attorney General KK Venugopal to depute a law officer on the next date of hearing for clarifying the Centre’s stand.

“Since the issue which has been raised is of some importance, we request the learned Attorney General for India to nominate a Law Officer to assist the Court,” said a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud in an order last week.

The Court was examining an appeal moved by IndiGo Airlines, which has challenged orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and consequent directions to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). By its order in August 2015, the tribunal had directed the DGCA to ensure that no disinfectant fumigation is carried out inside a plane when any passenger is inside.

IndiGo repeated pleas seeing modification of this order were rejected by the NGT. Most recently, in October 2018, the green panel had dismissed yet another application by IndiGo, stating that none of the airlines were able to show that such a spray is not injurious to human health.

According to the plea filed by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd-run IndiGo, there was a spiralling growth in dengue and malaria cases with the onset of monsoons and due to the "blanket ban", they were not able to take any step for the protection and safety of passengers.

It said that the airports which are most affected by mosquito problems are Kolkata, Patna, Lucknow, Delhi, Guwahati, Raipur, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Pune, Bengaluru, Dehradun and Bhubaneswar.

However, as the NGT declined to lift the ban, the airlines moved the Supreme Court, which has asked the Central government and the DGCA to submit their response within four weeks. It further noted that since the proceedings before the tribunal were initiated on the basis of an email of one Dr Jai Kumar, a neurologist based at Baylor Hospital, Texas, USA, it would be appropriate to appoint an amicus curiae to assist the Court.

"We request Ms Meenakshi Arora, learned senior counsel to assist the court as amicus curiae," said the bench, while fixing the matter for hearing after four weeks.