Supreme Court : order reserved in plea seeking refund of airfare for tickets booked during COVID-19 lockdown

The order was reserved by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.
When the matter was taken up today, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta clarified the Centre’s stand that the credit shell facility could not be availed by travel agents who booked tickets during lockdown.

The Court had earlier asked the Centre to file an additional affidavit clarifying how travel agents will make good the loss incurred by them if the refund of airline fare for tickets booked during the lockdown is made directly to passengers.

The Centre has also informed the Court that the refund for air tickets will only be applicable for flights originating in India, both domestic and international. It has clarified that there cannot be any refund for flights originating out of India, irrespective of whether it is an Indian carrier or an international carrier coming into India.
In its fresh affidavit, the DGCA has stated in clear terms that when a passenger has a purchased ticket from a travel agent which has already been paid for by the passenger to the agent, then “either the credit shell or the tickets in lieu of Credit Shell goes to the passenger directly.”

The Centre states that as per the extant regulations, this lump-sum payment of money by a travel agent or a corporate house on behalf of his client, either in advance or after availing the flight services, is not recognized as a contract of purchase of tickets under the Civil Aviation Rules (CAR). The same remains in the realm of private contract between the parties.

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