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Declare VT, British Raj call sign in Indian planes, as against sovereignty: BJP member to HC

The petitioner says that India is not a British territory and retaining the call sign prefix "VT" which denotes "Victorian and Viceroy territory" even after 75 years of freedom goes against the sovereignty and integrity of India.

June 23, 2022 / 03:37 PM IST
Air India

Air India

The prefix in call sign "VT", which stands for "Victorian territory and Viceroy territory", which appears on all Indian aircraft must be declared as against the sovereignty of India, a fresh petition filed in the Delhi High Court said.

Filed by Bhartiya Janata Party member and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, this petition says that the call sign "VT" is the one that was given to Indian carriers in the pre-independence era. India no longer is a British territory and has not been so for the past 75 years. As such, it ought to be changed.

A call sign identifies the country of an aircraft.

Most countries that were colonised by the British have successfully changed their call signs while India has still continued to carry this symbol of the "British Raj", the petitioner says.

The petitioner has urged the court to declare this legacy of the British rule as being against the sovereignty of India and has prayed for a court direction for the government to change this call sign to preserve this sovereignty.

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"'VT' code is a reflection of colonial rule. India is a sovereign country hence cannot be a territory of the Viceroy. Why is India continuing with VT code?", reads the petition.

The plea highlights that while the Indian government approached the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for changing the call sign, no decision on the request has been arrived at. As a result, India till date uses the same call sign assigned to it in 1929. To stress the need for a change in this code, Upadhyay's petition points out that countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Fiji moved on from the call signs they were assigned by the British and have adopted different codes.

Retaining British legacy for Indian aviation is termed as a matter of shame and "an insult to India" in this petition which also goes on to say that the "it was Shivkar Bapuji Talpade who made the first aircraft (Marutsakha) and flew it over Mumbai's Chowpatty in 1895, eight years before the Wright Brothers."

Also invoking the provisions of the Constitution, the PIL states that the words "sovereignty and integrity of India" found in Indian Constitution denote the "wholeness of the country". It is for this sovereignty and integrity that the symbol of British legacy needs to be changed, the petitioner's case essentially is.

A similar plea by different petitioners which sought for a change in the call sign from "VT" was dismissed by the Bombay High Court in 2021. The Bombay High Court noted that while the government had attempted to get the call sign changed and approached the ICAO for the same, there was no statutory duty for the government to do it. As such, a petition for directions for the government to undertake this exercise could not be entertained.
Shruti Mahajan
first published: Jun 23, 2022 11:18 am
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