In January, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) slapped a penalty of Rs 20 lakh on Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport for violating safety regulations by neglecting runway maintenance. Imposition of such penalties is possible only because the rules have changed and the aviation watchdog has been armed with the power to fine entities under its purview for wrongdoing. Speculation had arisen that DGCA received the power to fine aviation entities as a way for the government to exercise greater control over aviation.
Against this backdrop, Aakanksha Joshi, Partner at Economic Laws Practice (ELP) has been quoted by moneycontrol.com in their article titled ‘Aviation watchdog uses sharper teeth to punish wrongdoing by airports, airlines’. Aakanksha says, “The Aircraft Act, 1934 the statute relating to securing safe aircraft operations and ensuring civil aviation in line with international standards, was amended by the Aircraft (Amendment) Act, 2020. The amended Act raised the maximum penalty for breach of any provision of the Aircraft Act or the Aircraft Rules from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore. The 2020 Amendment also added Section 10A to the Aircraft Act, enabling the central government to appoint officers for deciding penalties. The government vested DGCA with the power to decide and impose penalties.”
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