After going through the flying records of GMR Aviation, the DGCA found evidence of 'false' pre-flight medical checks of pilots and cabin crew
Swinging into action the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday grounded 11 pilots of GMR Aviation for failing to carry out mandated pre-flight tests, especially while flying politicians.
The action by the aviation regulator virtually rendered a large chunk of GMR's aircraft fleet non-operational and leading key politicians to look for alternatives to carry out their ongoing poll campaigning.
The DGCA’s unprecedented move came after the regulator’s team found that several flights operated by GMR Aviation in the last month, including one on Monday when an aircraft flew Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to Bhubaneshwar, had skipped some mandatory tests.
The tests included the pre-flight breath analysis of pilots and cabin crew, with the breathalyser equipment being non-functional.
The non-scheduled charter operator’s documentation and equipment were monitored between 12th and 14 April 2014 and these major lapses were found by the regulator.
After going through the flying records of GMR Aviation during this period, DGCA found evidence of “false” pre-flight medical checks, the sources claimed.
GMR’s Falcon 2000-Lx, one of the most advanced business jets in the country which flew Rahul Gandhi on Monday, is used extensively by the Gandhis, who also use its Hawker—750 airplane and two Bell choppers.
The DGCA issued notices to the 11 pilots and six cabin crew of GMR Aviation as to why they should not be suspended for five years.
The regulator also decided to act against the company’s doctor for issuing pre-flight medical certificates to the crew even when the breathalyser equipment was not working for almost a month, the sources said.
Pre-flight breathalyser tests are mandatory for all flights which are used by SPG-protected Rahul or Sonia Gandhi.
The SC also allowed Sundar Raman to continue as COO IPL7 that would begin on Wednesday
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should conduct a probe against N Srinivasan and 12 others in the betting and spot fixing scandal to maintain its institutional autonomy as the Court cannot “close its eyes” to the allegations made by the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee.
The apex court also allowed Sundar Raman to continue as chief operating officer of the seventh edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournaments.
A bench headed by Justice AK Patnaik, however, expressed reservations over ordering a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) or Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), saying that the institutional autonomy of the board has to be maintained and a committee constituted by the BCCI to look into the issue would be preferred.
“Having come to know the nature of allegations, we cannot close our eyes,” the bench said, adding that it is concerned about the game of cricket in the country and not about individuals.
Referring to a sealed envelope report of the Justice Mudgal Committee, the bench said, “It (report) said all these allegations were brought to his (Srinivasan) notice but he did not take any action. That means he was aware about the allegations and did not take them seriously.”
In the meantime, the bench allowed Raman to continue to function as chief operating officer (COO) of IPL7, which is to begin on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.
The bench allowed his continuation on the post after veteran cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, appointed as an interim president of BCCI by the apex court, wrote to it to take a decision on the fate of Raman.
The apex court had earlier asked Gavaskar to take a decision on whether to remove Raman as COO or not.
The court also made it clear that IPL 7 would go on, as scheduled, and it also agreed to hear the plea of the BCCI and Srinivasan for allowing them to get the tapes of audio recordings of interactions of the Mudgal Committee with Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Srinivasan.
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