New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation in response to a plea challenging the January 2023 order imposing a ban on carrying Global Positioning System (GPS) devices on commercial flights.
The petitioner, environmental scientist Rahul Banerjee, sought damages for the unlawful seizure of his GPS device at Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The court, presided over by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Mini Pushkarna, granted the Ministry four weeks to respond and scheduled further hearing on April 2, 2024.
Banerjee, stressing the integral role of the hand-held GPS device in his work, argued that its confiscation was in violation of extant laws.
Banerjee’s counsel said that the seizure occurred on June 2, 2022, despite the absence of a prohibition on carrying GPS devices on commercial aircraft at that time.
The plea clarified that the ‘receive-only’ GPS device lacked transmission capabilities, distinguishing it from a satellite phone.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the Civil Aviation Ministry’s addendum in January 2023, equating GPS devices with satellite phones, overlooked the fact that importing and carrying such devices had been permissible for at least a decade.
The court was informed that the authorities were willing to return Banerjee’s GPS device and consider his representation. However, Banerjee’s counsel urged thorough consideration of the matter and the withdrawal of the Aviation Ministry’s order.