New Delhi: Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad beat up an Air India staffer with his slippers in April this year. This led to all domestic airlines promptly barring him from flying in a month when he had to frequently travel to Delhi to attend Parliament. He was allowed back aboard only after a weak apology to the Minister of Civil Aviation and after the Lok Sabha Speaker also seemed to suggest that a mere apology will correct this bizarre situation. So will the aam aadmi, who in case misbehaves in a similar fashion while on board, be allowed back after a mere apology? Nah. This privilege, like so many others, has till now been reserved only for the peoples’ representatives. Yesterday, another MP allegedly misbehaved with the crew of a private airline and was similarly barred by all the airlines from flying later in the day.
An NDTV report said JC Diwakar Reddy, the Telugu Desam Party lawmaker who created a ruckus at the Visakhapatnam airport after being denied a boarding pass for arriving late by IndiGo, refused to apologise for his behaviour. Perhaps, even seeking an apology for atrocious behavior is asking too much of our MPs. Remember, Diwakar Reddy is from the same political party as Civil Aviation Minister A Gajapathi Raju, and the minister has already denied asking IndiGo to allow Reddy to board the flight yesterday after the incident. It seems despite the violence he unleashed at the airport, IndiGo did allow him to fly and the ban by this and other airlines was imposed later.
Gaikwad's actions had pushed the government to come out with draft regulations to create a national no-fly list some time back. What could get you on this list of shame? Verbal and or physical abuse, inappropriate touching while on board, besides, of course, damage to the aircraft or other acts of violence. Will a mere apology set the record straight? Well, this will have to be decided by a 'Standing Committee' which each airline will have to form to decide on individual cases of inappropriate behaviour within 10 days of the incident. This three-member committee will function as a quasi-judicial body and the penalty that can be imposed for inappropriate behaviour in the skies ranges from three months to two years but could also be extended further. You could get barred from domestic flying forever, depending on the decision of the standing committees within the airline and then formed by the DGCA.
The draft norms were put up for public consultations in May this year and ministry officials had then said these will become the norm in about two months. Another day, another Gaikwad-like situation and the much awaited no-fly list is nowhere in sight.
Another NDTV report says the no-fly list will be ready this week. Separately, a person close to developments at Air India had said earlier that the FIR lodged against Gaikwad for his violent behavior aboard Air India is “just in name” since the police need the permission of the Lok Sabha speaker to proceed with investigations against an Lok Sabha MP. It is not known if any movement has happened at all on the FIR front or whether the Speaker has given her permission.
So for all intents and purposes, the hullabaloo over Gaikwad died its own death, the MP got back flying rights and India went on to witness more entitled souls abusing airline staff for merely doing their duty.
Here are the salient features of the proposed no-fly list, which is still in the works:
1) The Ministry is proposing three levels of unruly passengers ---- in level I, passengers indulging in disruptive behaviour like making physical gestures and other such activities will be penalised. In level II, passengers indulging in physical abuse, sexual harassment etc are likely to be booked. Those indulging in life threatening behaviour will be booked under level III the punishment for which could be a ban on flying with the airline on which the act has been committed for at least two years. Level I and II could see a passenger barred for three and six months respectively.
2) If a passenger is banned by one airline then it will be left to other domestic airlines to decide on whether they want to fly such a passenger or not. While the ban is proposed only to be applied on domestic airlines, nothing stops foreign airlines from implementing India’s no-fly list if the 'Rights of Carriage Act' of the international airlines also has similar provisions.
3) To implement the no-fly list the Government is also looking to see how they can link a passenger making a domestic airline booking to a common identity card be it a passport or aadhar card so that genuine passengers are not harassed.
4) Each airline has to constitute a 'standing committee' comprising a retired judge, a representative of another airline and another representative from a consumer forum to examine each complaint of unruly behaviour. The passenger accused of such beahviour can also appeal to this committee, which must decide the matter within 10 days.
5) Any aggrieved passenger may then approach the DGCA where again a similar committee will decide on the innocence of the passenger.
This is the existing Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) which defines an unruly flyer and what all can be done to deal with such passengers does not mention any financial penalties. It merely says “passengers who are likely to be unruly and disruptive must be carefully monitored, and if necessary, refused embarkation or off-loaded, if deemed to pose a threat to the safety and security of the flight, fellow passengers or staff while on board aircraft.”
Let us hope the first ever no-fly list manages to create some fear in the minds of the violent law makers.
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Updated Date: Jun 16, 2017 13:10:26 IST