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Supreme Court Directs Airlines To Refund All Collected Airfare To Passengers Who Cancelled Their Flights

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In the matter of Pravasi Legal Cell & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors, the Supreme Court heard multiple writ petitions seeking the same relief, therefore allowing all the cases to be heard jointly, which were then disposed of by this common verdict.

Brief Facts of the Case

In the COVID-19 pandemic situation, a lockdown was imposed by the Government of India from 25th March 2020. During the lockdown, running of all domestic and international flights was banned. Since it was further imposed on 3rd May 2020 along with the ban on the running of all the flights, the issue of refund of airfare was important in the lockdown when the domestic and international flights were suspended.

The PIL was filed to affirm on the action of airlines (respondent) as the airlines have not refunded the full amount collected for the booked tickets, due to the cancellation of all the flights. It is arbitrary and in violation of Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Arguments Before the Court

The plea by a society sought a refund of the full payment of the amount collected for the tickets due to the cancellation of flights because of the restrictions imposed by the Government of India. It was submitted by the petitioners that it is compulsory for the airlines, to refund the full amount collected for the tickets. It was also stated that respondents are providing a credit shell with a validity of one year which is contrary to the CAR of May 2008.

A passenger association submitted to issue a consequential direction for the respondents to refund the same without levying any charges on account of cancellation. Pravasi Legal Cell contended that as per the order of the SC, airlines were challenged as the party respondents, and some of the airlines had filed applications on their own to step in, in the case which was allowed by this Court.

Observation of the Court

The Supreme Court observed that the various contentions and issues were highlighted from both sides and suggestions/formulations were also made. Therefore, the court decided to issue directions.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court has directed to refund all the collected fare to the passenger within 15 days of this judgment. If there is financial difficulty, then the airline shall provide credit shell equal to the amount collected to consume till 31st March 2021. With this direction, the writ petitions were disposed of.

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