The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to Jet Airways on a plea seeking direction to the Civil Aviation Ministry and the DGCA to ensure refunds or provide alternative travel mode for passengers who have booked tickets with the airlines which has temporarily suspended all its flights. Jet Airways flew its last flight on the Amritsar-Delhi-Mumbai route on April 17. Jet has announced a temporary shutdown as lenders have refused to provide it with the much-needed emergency funding.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani sought response from Jet Airways and also asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to file an affidavit on the issue.
The high court said it will hear the matter after summer vacation and posted the matter for July 16.
The court's directions came on a plea, filed by activist Bejon Kumar Misra, which had said that the sudden suspension of air services of Jet Airways has resulted in a major crisis for passengers who were not informed about it earlier.
The application had sought direction to the ministry and DGCA to adopt prompt redressal mechanism for all affected passengers to access full refund of air tickets with reasonable compensation or arrange alternative mode of travel for them to reach their destination as an emergency exercise.
The plea, filed through advocates Shashank Deo Sudhi and Shashi Bhushan, had said: "It is common knowledge that all competitor airlines have exorbitantly increased airfares and the toothless and vulnerable consumers are constrained to suffer not only in terms of money, but also in terms of mental harassment of unprecedented scale."
Citing media report, it had said more than Rs 360 crore of passengers/consumers' hard earned money is under threat due to non-refund of ticket value.
"The passengers have to not only purchase alternative tickets at highly exorbitant cost, but also go through lots of anxieties and mental agony. This has resulted in profiteering by other airlines at the cost of the passengers and till date no relief has been announced by the respondents (Ministry and DGCA).
"It is on record that such a situation was existing for more than two years, but was intentionally allowed by the authorities without any concern for passengers and other affected parties," the plea had claimed.
It had also said an amendment to the existing laws and appointment of an effective regulator is the need of the hour to protect the interest of passengers and regulate airfares in an open and transparent manner to avoid such events in future.
After months of uncertainty, Jet Airways announced temporary suspension of its operations on April 17 as it failed to receive emergency funds from lenders.
A day after the airline suspended operations, hundreds of employees gathered in the national capital seeking measures to revive the carrier, which has been in operation for nearly 26 years.
Domestic lenders have invited bids for selling stake in Jet Airways. On April 18, the lenders said they were "reasonably hopeful" that the bidding process for the airline would end successfully.
Jet Airways employees are also protesting against their job losses. On April 28, a 43-year-old Jet Airways employee, who also suffered from cancer, committed suicide by jumping off a building in Nalasopara in Maharashtra.