The Delhi High Court on Monday permitted a petitioner to give a representation to the Centre on his plea seeking to change the call sign ‘VT’ on Indian aircraft on grounds that it stands for Victorian Territory and Viceroy Territory, a legacy of the British Raj.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said courts are not supposed to change the call sign and it is the government and the lawmakers who legislate.
“We are not supposed to do it. The government does it, not us. They are the lawmakers. We do not legislate. You approach the government first,” the bench said.
According to the plea, a call sign or registration code is for the identification of an aircraft, and the prefix ‘VT’ is the nationality code that every aircraft registered in India is required to carry.
Central government standing counsel Monika Arora submitted that the petitioner can always give representation to the government and the concerned ministry.
After some arguments, petitioner, and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay asked that he be allowed to give a representation to the government.
The court allowed the request. It said the PIL stands disposed of with the liberty sought by the petitioner and that the representation be decided in a reasonable time.
The petition sought to direct the Central government to change the call sign ‘VT’ on Indian aircraft in order to secure the sovereignty of India as well as rule of law, right to freedom, and right to dignity of Indians guaranteed under the Constitution. It said countries such as China, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka had changed the call signs of their aircraft immediately after independence.
”The code is generally seen just before the rear exit door and above the windows. All the domestic airlines have the prefix, which is followed by unique alphabets that define the aircraft and who it belongs to. For example, on Indigo flights the registration VT is followed by IDV, that is, VT-IDV, for Jet, it is VT-JMV,” the petition said.
”Petitioner submits that the registration number of Indian aircraft marks the legacy of ‘British Raj’. ‘VT’ code is a reflection of colonial rule. India is a sovereign country and hence cannot be a territory of the Viceroy. Why is India continuing with the VT code? The efforts of the government to change the registration code have been fruitless.
In 2004, the aviation ministry approached the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to change the code but no decision has been taken so far, the petition added. ”It is a code given to us in 1929 by British rulers, denoting us as British territory. It is very unfortunate that India, even after 75 years of Independence, retains VT, the symbol of slavery,” it said.
The petitioner had listed the Ministries of Home Affairs, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Civil Aviation, and Law and Justice as parties to the petition.