AIRLINES: Low-Cost Carrier
Travel by a low cost carrier does not mean that the passengers are to be treated with any less care, attention, respect or courtesy when compared to full service carriers or that there can be dilution in the minimum standards of safety, security or efficiency.
The issue of responsibility for delay in operating the flight is distinct and different from the responsibility of the airline to offer facilitation to the passengers grounded or struck on board due to delay. Facilitation of passengers who are stranded after boarding the aircraft on account of delays is an implied term of carriage of passengers, accepted as an international practice, apart from being a requirement to be fulfilled under DGCA's directives. Such facilitation which relates to the health, survival and safety of the passengers, is to be provided, not only by full service carriers, but by all airlines including low cost carriers. In the event of delay in departure, passengers on-board are to be provided by the air-carriers, including low cost carriers, facilitation by way of 'adequate meals and refreshment' apart from access to toilet. If a flight had remained on tarmac without taking off, for eleven hours, after boarding was completed, and if permission was refused to send the passengers to the airport lounge, the Airport and ATC authorities have to be blamed for requiring the passengers to stay on board. Whenever there is such delay beyond a reasonable period (say three hours), the passengers on board should be permitted to get back to the airport lounge.
Inter Globe Aviation v. N. Satchidanand , C.A. No. 4925 of 2011; Decided on 4-7-2011 (SC) [R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik, JJ.]
SPORTS STADIA AND SPORTS FACILITIES: Irregularities in Administration
The country requires world class infrastructure to train potential athletes and sportspersons. It is not sufficient if infrastructure is created, but such infrastructure and facilities should be properly maintained and optimum utilization of the infrastructure should be ensured. A sports complex cannot be converted into a Recreation Club. Nor can a stadium complex be used for new sporting recreational activities or for holding marriages and other functions, unless it had been planned in a manner providing for a recreational club.
Nahar Singh Stadium at Faridabad, stated to be situated in a land measuring about 38 acres belonging to Municipal Corporation, consisted of a cricket stadium, a football ground, a basket ball ground and an athletics ground and large vacant grounds. As District Sports Council and the District Cricket Association which occasionally used the stadium, found it difficult to maintain the stadium complex, the Sports Council granted a lease of 6497 sq. yds., for a period of 99 years, in favour of District Cricket Association Club on a token annual rent of Re. one per year without inviting tenders and without ensuring exclusive use for sports.
A public interest litigation has been filed alleging that now leased premises are being used for illegal activities and the club has become aden of gamblers and the stadium land is being used for private purposes. The High Court has been requested to deal with the matter.
Krishan Lal Gera v. State of Haryana , C.A. No. 4924 of 2011; Decided on 4-7-2011 (SC) [R.V. Raveendran and H.L. Gokhale, JJ.]
COMMON SALT: Ban on Sale of Non-iodised Salt
The question whether there should be universal salt iodisation is a much debated technical issue relating to medical science. An informed decision in such matters can only be taken by experts after carrying out exhaustive surveys, trials tests, scientific investigations and research. Courts are neither equipped, nor can be expected to decide about the need or absence of need for such universal salt iodisation.
The Central Government introduced a ban on sale of non-iodised salt by inserting Rule 44-I in Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, vide Notification dated 17-11-2005. Certain non-governmental organizations representing consumers, salt producers, medical experts, academics etc. opposing compulsory iodisation of salt for human consumption, filed writ petitions challenging constitutionality of Rule 44-I.
The Supreme Court while holding Rule 44-I as ultra vires the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, has directed the continuation of the ban contained in Rule 44-I for a period of six months. The Central Government may within that period review the compulsory iodisation programme with reference to latest inputs and research data.
Academy of Nutrition Improvement v. Union of India , W.P. (C) No. 80 of 2006 etc.; Decided on 4-7-2011 (SC) [R.V. Raveendran and B. Sudershan Reddy, JJ.]
SEWAGE WORKERS: Safety of
Given the option, no one would like to enter the manhole of sewage system for cleaning purposes, but there are people who are forced to undertake such hazardous jobs with the hope that at the end of the day they will be able to make some money and feed their family. Such a worker is made to enter manhole without safety gears and proper equipments. In this scenario, as held, the courts are not only entitled but are under constitutional obligation to take cognizance of the issues relating to the lives of the people who are forced to undertake jobs which are hazardous and dangerous to life.
Since the legal representatives of the persons who work in the sewers laid or maintained by the State and/or its agencies/instrumentalities on their own or through the contractors and who get killed due to negligence of the employer do not have the means and resources for seeking intervention of the judicial apparatus of the State, the National Campaign for Dignity and Rights of Sewerage and Allied Workers, which is engaged in the welfare of sewage workers filed writ petition in the High Court to highlight the plight of sewage workers many of whom died on account of contemptuous apathy shown by the public authorities and contractors engaged by them and even private individuals/enterprises in the matter of providing safety equipments to those who are required to work under extremely odd conditions. Allowing the petition, necessary directions have been issued.
Delhi Jal Board v . National Campaign for Dignity , C.A. No. 5322 of 2011; Decided on 12-7-2011 (SC)
SEX WORKERS: Rehabilitation and Upliftment
The Supreme Court has constituted a panel to address the problems of sex workers in the country. In a case of brutal murder of a sex worker in a red light area by battering her head repeatedly against the wall and floor of a room, while convicting the accused for the offence, the Supreme Court suo motu converted the case into a Public Interest Litigation. The Court held that the State Governments through Social Welfare Boards should prepare schemes for rehabilitation all over the country for physically and sexually abused women commonly known as prostitutes as the prostitutes also have a right to live with dignity since they are also human beings and their problems also need to be addressed.
The Central and the State Governments have been directed to prepare schemes for giving technical/vocational training to sex workers. The schemes should mention in detail who will give this training and in what manner they can be rehabilitated and settled by offering them employment. It has been emphasized that any rehabilitation of the sex workers will not be coercive in any manner and it shall be voluntary on the part of the sex workers.
Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of WB , Crl. App. No. 135 of 2010; Decided on 2-8-2011 (SC) [Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra, JJ.]
SERVICE LAW: Selections
When emphasis is given in the Recruitment Rules itself to the minimum marks to be obtained in the written examination making it clear that at least the said minimum marks have to be obtained by the concerned candidate, there cannot be a question of relaxation or rounding off of marks or giving grace marks so as to bring up a candidate to the minimum requirement prescribed.
For appointment to the post of Subordinate Judge, guided by Haryana Civil Services (Judicial Branch) Rules, in order to qualify in the written examination, a candidate had to obtain at least 33% marks in each of the papers and at least 50% qualifying marks in the aggregate in all the written papers. Appellant having received 49.8% in aggregate in all the tests, having failed to qualify in terms of the Rules, was not appointed to the said post. Since the marks obtained by him was short of 50% by just two marks, a prayer was made for rounding off marks to the qualifying marks of 50% in aggregate in terms of the Rules. The Court rejected appellant's prayer holding that both the Selection Committee as also the Appointing Authority are statutory in nature and any violation or any relaxation thereof whether by way of giving grace marks or rounding off would be acting beyond the parameters prescribed which would be illegal.
Bhanu Pratap v. State of Haryana , C.A. No. 6205 of 2011; Decided on 2-8-2011 (SC) [Dr. Mukundakam Sharma and Anil R. Dave, JJ.]; Orissa Public Service Commission v. Rupashree Chowdhary , C.A. No. 6201 of 2011; Decided on 2-8-2011 SC [Dr. Mukundakam Sharma and Anil R. Dave, JJ.]