The Division Bench of Delhi high court comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan yesterday refused to entertain a plea challenging the minimum airfares fixed by the central government on account of COVID-19. The petition was filed by Veer Vikram Chauhan, highlighting that the minimum fare fixed by the central government for certain sectors was in fact higher than the market price of the tickets. The petitioner stated that as on May 21, the fare from Delhi to Kolkata for the flight scheduled for August 4,2020 varied from Rs. 2,924 to Rs. 3,153 and was thus cheaper than the minimum fare of Rs. 3,500 fixed by the central government. The petitioner further contended that the difference in fare prices would lead to fixation of prices by the cartel of the airlines.
However the court noted that it was not sitting in appeal against the fixation of minimum and maximum airfare by the government. The court said that it was not inclined to interfere in the policy decision of the government, that too by the way of a public interest litigation. Further court held that it ought to be kept in mind that whenever such type of tariff is fixed by the government of India in exercise of the powers conferred under the aircraft act, 1934 to be read with rules enacted thereunder, the courts would be extremely slow in interfering with the same. The exercise of tariff fixation and economic matters in general, are issues on which the writ court would generally refrain from exercising jurisdiction, unless found to be totally arbitrary or unreasonable. However the court observed that exercise of such a power by the central government could not be said to be arbitrary or unreasonable.