The Delhi High Court on Thursday allowed the breath analyser test (BAT) to be administered to air traffic controllers (ATCs) by using individual tubes, while modifying its March 23 order which suspended the tests in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In March, the Air Traffic Controllers’ Guild (India) had filed a plea seeking directions to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Air Authority of India (AAI) to temporarily suspend the BAT to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.
Justice Navin Chawla allowed the resumption of the tests after an application was filed by advocate Anjana Gosain, on behalf of DGCA, stating that with the resumption of the flights, it was important to administer the test to ATCs again.
Seeking a modification to the March 23 order, Gosain contended that the rules of Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) of September 2019 state that a BAT must be administered. She also said that individual tubes are used for testing, an international practice.
Gosain told the court that after much deliberation, it was concluded that BAT is the most efficient and reliable form of detecting alcohol on the breath, adding that other methods, such as testing blood and urine, are neither practical nor is there any provision for them in the CAR.
The DGCA plea stated that it has been now recommended that once a breath analysing machine has been used to test someone, the person would not be tested for the next 12 hours.
Following this, the court accepted DGCA’s application and gave the ATC’s Guild the liberty to suggest sanitisation and other preventive measures.
Earlier, as the pandemic started to spread, the ATC’s Guild (India) had moved the court claiming that BAT violates their fundamental right to life and health.
BAT was made mandatory as per directions issued by DGCA on September 16, 2019. DGCA directed the Air Traffic Management to administer BATs to employees of Air Traffic Control, aerodrome management, aircraft maintenance and repair, ground handling agency, aircraft operations every day.