Call Sign 'VT' Written On Indian Aircrafts A Symbol Of Slavery – PIL In Delhi HC For Change Of Code
A PIL under Article 226 of the Constitution has been filed in the Delhi High Court for the change of call sign 'VT' written on Indian aircrafts. The petition has been filed seeking writ, order or direction to the Centre to change the call sign.
The term 'VT' stands for Victorian Territory and Viceroy Territory (a legacy of the British Raj) and is a nationality code that is assigned to each aircraft registered in India.
The code is generally seen just before the rear exit door and above the windows.
The Petition has been filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in order to secure sovereignty, Rule of Law (Article 14), Right to Freedom (Article 19) and Right to Dignity (Article 19) of the Constitution.
The Petitioner has pleaded before the Court that even after 75 years of Independence, India still retains the call sign 'VT' which is a symbol of slavery.
The Petitioner states that Britain had set the prefix 'VT' for all the colonies in 1929. But countries like China, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka changed their Call Signs after independence. While in India, the prefix has remained on the aircraft even after 93 years, which offends, Sovereignty, Rule of Law, Right to Freedom and Right to Dignity.
Further, the Petition states that the registration number of Indian aircraft marks the legacy of the '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.
The Petitioner also states that it is a code given to us in 1929 by British rulers, denoting us a British territory and it is very unfortunate that India, even after 75 years of Independence, retains VT, the symbol of slavery.
Furthermore, the Petitioner pleads that the use of the VT symbol denotes us still being Victorian Territory and Viceroy Territory but the government refuses to get it changed or even make an effort even after 75 years of Independence.
The Petitioner also states that most of the countries which went through colonial rule have gotten rid of their colonial signs and launched their own code. 'VT' is not a symbol of pride but a matter of shame, if we are still using it when our nation is free.
Additionally, the petitioner pleads that even our Prime Minister travels to meet world leaders in Air India One B747-437, with a call sign VT-EVB. Is the Prime Minister a leader of a free democratic country or of a Viceroy Territory?
The Petitioner also states that futile efforts were made in the past regarding the change of call sign for our nation's aircraft but all was in vain, as they responded by saying that India could not get BA (Bharat) and IN (India) as China and Italy have already taken up the 'B' and 'I', respectively,". The then Civil Aviation Minister Mr Praful Patel had stated that because India could not get a code of its choice, it will function with "VT' only.
Petitioner further also submitted that if other countries can do it, so can India and bring freedom from the feeling of slavery by rejecting the call sign provided to us by our former rulers.
After 75 years of independence, there is one colonial legacy that continues to fly high over the Indian skies: civilian aircrafts registered in India continue to carry the prefix 'VT', standing for Viceroy's Territory. The government is hesitant to change the registration. One can find the codes 'VT-AAA' or 'VT-ZZZ' painted on the aircraft just like the registration number of a vehicle. There have been demands for a very long time to change the code as it is a vestige of the colonial regime, but successive governments did nothing, the Petitioner pleads.
The Petitioner urges that the use of the call sign 'VT' on Indian aircraft is an insult to India as 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. The Marutsakha was based on sage Bharadwaj's aviation knowledge, which included warplanes and aircraft doubling up as submarines.
The Petitioner states that the Centre has constitutional obligations to take appropriate steps to change the 'VT' sign in order to secure and enhance the dignity of India and its Indians. The Constitution enables the Centre and States to correct the historical wrongs and change the signs of slavery and this year we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of independence.
Thus, the Petitioner prays for the following –
- Direct and declare that being a 'Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic', the Call Sign 'VT' written on Indian aircrafts and stands for 'Victorian Territory and Viceroy Territory' (which is a legacy of the British Raj) is not only against the 'Sovereignty of India' but also contrary to the Rule of Law, Right to Freedom and Right to Dignity of Indians guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution;
- Direct the Centre to change the Call Sign 'VT' written on Indian aircrafts and stands for 'Victorian Territory and Viceroy Territory' (which is a legacy of the British Raj); in order to secure the Sovereignty of India as well as the Rule of Law, Right to Freedom and Right to Dignity of Indians guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution (like China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka etc. had changed the Call Signs of their Aircrafts immediately after the independence);
- Pass such other order(s) and/or direction(s) as the Court deems fit and proper to secure the sovereignty and dignity of citizens.