The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a statement after a report by Huffpost India quoted DGCA chief Arun Kumar as saying that the bans imposed by multiple private airlines on stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra for allegedly "heckling" journalist Arnab Goswami were in "clear violation" of the government's rules on unruly behaviour.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, the DGCA said that the report had "misquoted/misrepresented" Kumar's statements. The statement also stated that the action taken by the airlines was in "complete consonance" with the rules on handling unruly behaviour under the 'Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) Section-3, Series M Part VI', which were revised in 2017.
The DGCA further said that the issue of Kamra's conduct will be referred to an internal committee as prescribed in the CAR and the committee's decision on whether the airlines' action was within the specified protocol will be "binding". The internal committee is expected to present its decision within 30 days after the case is given to it.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) January 29, 2020
"The internal committee is to give the final decision in 30 days by giving the reasons in writing, which shall be binding on the airline concerned. Punishment for different type of unruly behavior is also prescribed in the same CAR and the Internal Committee has to adhere to the same," the statement said.
On Wednesday, Kamra reacted to the bans imposed by four airlines — IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet, and GoAir — for "heckling" Goswami on a Lucknow-bound IndiGo flight. In a video, that went viral on social media on Tuesday, Kamra can be heard demanding a reply from Goswami, asking him if he is a "coward or a journalist or a nationalist". The comedian dedicated his action to Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad, who killed himself in his hostel room on 17 January, 2016.
On Wednesday, Kamra said, "It's not shocking at all to me that for exercising my right to speech, which falls under Article 19 of our Constitution, airlines have given me a temporary ban from flying. Fact of the matter is that at no point was I disruptive and at no point did I not follow orders of the cabin crew or the captain. At no point did I endanger the safety of any passenger on board, the only damage I caused was to the inflated ego to the 'journalist' Arnab Goswami."
I did this for my hero...
I did it for Rohit pic.twitter.com/aMSdiTanHo
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) January 28, 2020
He also said that no formal complaint had been made by Goswami or the the cabin crew of the Lucknow-bound IndiGo flight (6E5317), adding that every time there was an intervention by a crew member, he "complied".
After IndiGo issued a six-month-long ban on Kamra, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri also condemned his behaviour and advised other airlines to impose similar restrictions on the stand-up comedian. He said,"offensive behaviour designed to provoke and create disturbance inside an aircraft is absolutely unacceptable and endangers safety of air travellers".
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Updated Date: Jan 29, 2020 20:13:50 IST