Analysis | Flying ban on Kunal Kamra: Probe must to slap three-month flying ban

On the same tarmac: Soon after IndiGo imposed a ban, other airlines followed suit.

On the same tarmac: Soon after IndiGo imposed a ban, other airlines followed suit.   | Photo Credit: G.P. Sampath Kumar

In the interim, the ban can’t be for more than 30 days

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri’s advice to airlines to ban stand-up comic Kunal Kamra from air travel is prima facie in violation of the rules made by his own Ministry on handling of unruly passengers.

The three-month ban imposed by IndiGo, after Mr. Kamra allegedly heckled journalist Arnab Goswami on its flight, came within six hours of the incident. But rules of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation stipulate that the airline must have a three-member internal committee headed by a former judge to investigate such an incident within 30 days. An airline can ban a passenger in the interim, but that ban can’t be for more than 30 days.

Arbitrary ban

Many have questioned the arbitrariness in the way SpiceJet, Air India and GoAir followed suit and imposed a ban “until further notice”.

The rules state very clearly that a person can be placed on a “no-fly list” by an airline after it concludes an internal inquiry. It is only after that can other airlines exercise their “option” to ban the passenger. But in this particular case, airlines did not wait for IndiGo to conclude its inquiry.

IndiGo has not responded to queries from The Hindu on who the complainant was, the inquiry process and the grounds for the ban.

The rules provide for a three-tier ban — three months’ ban for verbal assault or gestures, a six-month ban for physical assault or sexual harassment and a ban of at least two years for life-threatening behaviour. The six-month ban, therefore, contravenes the rules as the video shows that there was no manhandling.

It is important here to stress that airlines are extremely cautious in imposing flying restrictions on passengers. This is the reason the only person to be placed on a no-fly list maintained by the DGCA so far is Birju Kumar Salla, a Mumbai-based businessman who scribbled a hoax bomb threat aboard a Jet Airways aircraft which forced the airline to divert the plane to an airport en route at Ahmedabad.

Though the Civil Aviation Ministry recommended that the individual be placed on a no-fly order, the airline took several days to comply with it.

Though Mr. Kamra can approach an appellate committee headed by a former High Court judge against his ban within 60 days, the question is that if it is the Ministry that constitutes such a body, can there be an independent inquiry.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 1:55:27 PM |

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