A petition moved before the Delhi High Court on Thursday sought direction to the Centre to change the call sign ‘VT’ written on Indian aircraft which stands for ‘Victorian Territory’ or ‘Viceroy Territory’, a legacy of British Raj.
Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhya, in his plea, said the prefix ‘VT’ is the nationality code that each aircraft registered in India is required to carry. The code is generally seen just before the rear exit door and above the windows.
Mr. Upadhyay said all the domestic airlines have the prefix ‘VT’, which is followed by unique alphabets that define the aircraft and who it belongs to.
It said Britain set the prefix ‘VT’ for all the colonies in 1929. While countries such as China, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka changed their call signs 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 are still using it when our nation is free,” Mr. Upadhyay said.
“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? Pakistan had its call sign changed to AP after bifurcation. Similarly, 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.
According to international laws governed by the UN, aircraft of every nation must specify the name of the country to which it belongs, using a Unique Alpha-Numeric Code. The code containing five characters should have two alphabets, that is the country’s code (‘VT’ in India’s case) and the rest shows which company owns the aircraft.
Mr. Uapdhyay said 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.