Plea in Delhi High Court to change call sign VT on Indian aircraft

While countries such as China, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka changed their callsigns after independence, the prefix VT (‘Victorian Territory’ or ‘Viceroy Territory’) is still present on Indian aircraft even after 93 years, the petitioner said.

While countries such as China, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka changed their callsigns after independence, the prefix VT (‘Victorian Territory’ or ‘Viceroy Territory’) is still present on Indian aircraft even after 93 years, the petitioner said.

A petition filed before the Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Center to change the call sign ‘VT’ written on Indian aircraft, which stands for ‘Victorian Territory’ or ‘Viceroy Territory’, a legacy of the British Raj.

Attorney Ashwini Kumar Upadhya said in his plea that the prefix ‘VT’ is the nationality code that every aircraft registered in India must carry. The code can generally be seen just before the rear exit and above the windows.

Mr. Upadhyay said that all domestic airlines have the prefix ‘VT’ followed by unique alphabets that define the aircraft and who it belongs to.

It said Britain instituted the prefix ‘VT’ for all colonies in 1929. While countries like China, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka changed their callsigns after independence, the prefix has remained on Indian aircraft even after 93 years.

“VT is not a symbol of pride, but a matter of shame, if we still use it when our country is free,” said Mr Upadhyay.

“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 viceroyal territory? Pakistan had changed its callsign to AP after split. Similarly, the Bahamas changed the sign from ‘VP-B’ to ‘C6’, Nepal changed to ‘9N’, Sri Lanka from ‘VP-C’ to ‘4R’ and Zimbabwe from ‘VP-W’ to ‘Z’,” the plea argued.

Under international laws governed by the UN, aircraft from each country must declare the name of the country it belongs to, using a unique alphanumeric code. The five-character code must have two alphabets, which is the country code (“VT” in the case of India) and the rest indicates which company the aircraft belongs to.

Mr Uapdhyay said there have been demands for a long time to change the code as it is a remnant of the colonial regime but successive governments did nothing.

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