NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday rebuked Air India's former director of operations Arvind Kathpalia, accused of violation of aircraft rules including evading breath analyser test and forgery, saying his actions cannot be called a mistake as they put at risk the lives of many and people like him are not worth being permitted to operate flights.
Justice Mukta Gupta made the remarks while issuing notice to the Delhi Police on an anticipatory bail plea filed by the pilot apprehending arrest in the case lodged against him on the direction of a lower court in which he is also accused of tampering with evidence, criminal conspiracy and intimidating a doctor working with the airline in January 2017.
Kathpalia was removed as director of operations of Air India in November this year after failure to clear pre-flight alcohol test, with the government citing "serious nature of the transgression and (his) failure to course correct".
"These people are not worth being permitted to operate flights. You (Kathpalia's counsel) must get this person acknowledge the fact that he is not worth operating flights.
It is to make him understand that he is not above law," the judge observed on Thursday.
When the judge asked whether the pilot was present in the court, his counsel said no and submitted that he would ask Kathpalia to be present on the next date of hearing on December 20.
According to the police, Kathpalia operated a flight from New Delhi to Bengaluru without undergoing the mandatory pre-flight breath analyser test on January 19, 2017. Further, even at Bengaluru he refused to undergo a similar test.
Later, on his arrival in New Delhi, he allegedly went to Pre-Flight Medical Examination Room and made a false entry in the Pre-Flight Breath Analyzer Examination Register for the flight he had operated.
During the hearing, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta and advocate Rajiv Mohan, who were appearing for the pilot, said this was not a case of forgery and it was a mistake.
They said he was already punished for this lapse by the DDCA which had suspended his licence for three years.
The counsel claimed that it was false complaint made against him by the Indian Pilots Commercial Association and his career of over 30 years has been impacted.
To this, the court said it was not a mistake and it risks lives of so many people.
"Sometimes, over-confidence kills you," it said.
The Delhi Police opposed his anticipatory bail plea saying it was not a normal case of forgery as the consequences were grave and he also threatened the doctor on duty.
A trial court had earlier directed the police to lodge the FIR for alleged violation of aircraft rules, tampering with evidence and intimidating a doctor working with Air India in January 2017.
Police had alleged that Kathpalia has also issued threats and intimidated Dr Nitin Seth, DDCA's doctor on duty, with a view to coerce him to retract his statement given in inquiry conducted by aviation regulator DGCA, where he had alleged that the Captain had manipulated the record in the register.
It was also alleged that there was violation of aircraft rules apart from tampering of evidence, coercive intimidation.