Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, banned by major airlines after he assaulted an Air India staffer on Thursday, is unlikely to start flying again soon unless he apologises for his behaviour.
According to a Times of India report, the Centre, meanwhile, is examining the existing provisions that allow airlines to off-load ‘unruly’ passengers as they do not specify for how long a person can be grounded for various types of unsafe behaviours.
The government is also going to put up a blueprint of a national no-fly list out of public comments “at the earliest”, as there is no clarity on whether there should be one list banning all unruly passengers or each airline should be allowed to maintain its own list.
The normally unflappable aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju set the tone for this tough response to Gaikwad's behaviour in reply to Shiv Sena's demand for getting airlines to lift the ban on the MP.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has a set of rules, known as civil aviation requirement (CAR) on the issue of unruly flyers. It says that a passenger can be arrested for: endangering safety of aircraft and co-passengers; getting drunk or smoking on plane; not listening to commander; abusing and threatening the crew or not allowing them to carry out their duties.
“The decision taken by airlines is there. There is lack of clarity in certain aspects of the (unruly flyer) CAR. Once this gets done, thereafter the ministry will decide the further course of action (on the Gaikwad case),” aviation secretary R N Choubey was quoted by Times of India as saying.
While the CAR says that an unruly passenger can be denied boarding a flight or off-loaded from a flight, it fails to specify how long can airlines ground a person for varying offences.
Hence, the decision by airlines like Air India, IndiGo, Jet and SpiceJet to indefinitely ground Gaikwad, therefore, legally falls in a “grey area”.
“We are also examining a national level no-fly list and will like to put it out for public consultation very, very soon,” said Choubey.
Sources in the Ministry of Civil Aviation indicated that plugging the grey area zone in 2014 CAR should not be viewed as India’s version of a ‘no-fly list.’