IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet, and GoAir suspended stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra from flying with them for allegedly heckling journalist Arnab Goswami aboard an IndiGo Mumbai-Lucknow flight on Tuesday. Whereas, AirAsia India and Vistara have said that the airline's internal committee is reviewing the matter and it will take action as per due process. Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in his tweet stated that he had taken note of the incident and would advise other airlines in India to impose similar restrictions on Kamra, stating "offensive behaviour designed to provoke and create disturbance inside an aircraft is absolutely unacceptable and endangers the safety of air travellers".
What is a 'No Fly List'?
The DGCA's No Fly List comprises the names of passengers identified as disruptive and are temporarily prohibited from boarding flights to ensure the safety and check unruly and disruptive behaviour on aircraft.
The US put out the No Fly List after 9/11 citing their security assessment. However, the names in the US' No-Fly list is undisclosed. A public no-fly list along with the rules came out for the first time in India only.
Who maintains 'No Fly List'?
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) maintains and compiles the no-fly list based on inputs given by airlines about the incidents.
When was the 'No Fly List' rule brought?
In March 2017, the then Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad assaulted an Air India employee. Months later another incident came into light when MP Diwakar Reddy refused boarding at Visakhapatnam airport creating a ruckus for other passengers.
The increasing incidents of violence with the crew members and airport staff-led DGCA to make a set of rules to put passengers on a No-Fly list. Notified on September 8, 2017, under the Civil Aviation Requirements, Section 3, Air Transport Series M Part VI, the rules focused on the handling of unruly passengers.
In 2018, Mumbai man, who left a fake threat note inside flights' toilet, became the first to be put on the no-fly list in India.
Offences under 'No-Fly List':
The offences are categorised in three levels. If any passenger violates the rules onboard or at the airport, the board reviews the offence under these categories and defines the punishment for the passenger.
Level 1: Inappropriate behaviour, physical gestures, verbal harassment, unruly inebriation etc. Under this, any passenger can be banned for till 3 months.
Level 2: Physically abusive behaviour, inappropriate touching or sexual harassment, etc. The offence is punishable by ban of up to 6 months.
Level 3: Any Life-threatening behaviour or action, damage to aircraft operating systems, physical violence such as choking, eye-gouging, murderous assault attempted or actual breach of the flight crew compartment, etc. A passenger will be banned with a mandatory minimum ban of at least 2 years.
It is to be noted that these rules are set up by DGCA and the ban will be imposed by the aviation board. While the offences will also be investigated by the police or any other investigation body separately and the case for the offence will also be filed with the police.
'No-Fly list': The procedure
According to the norms laid down by DGCA, the crewmember or staff must inform the pilot of the flight about the unruly behavior of the passenger. Later, the pilot in command of the flight initiates the procedure and reports the airline about the incident. The airline then forms an internal committee to study the case.
The committee comprises of Retired District and Session Judge as Chairman, a representative from a different scheduled Airline as Member, a representative from a passenger association or consumer association or retired officer of Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum as Member.
The committee must make a decision on the case within 30 days of the offense. During this period, the airline which filed the report can prohibit the passenger from boarding flights. If the committee fails to make its decision within 30 days, the case against the passengers gets dropped automatically.
Can other airlines are bound to ban the passenger?
No. It is not mandatory for other airlines to bar the passenger flying with them. They may choose to deny service but are not compelled to do so.
Where to see the 'No-Fly list'?
The names of the passengers of the 'No-Fly list' can be seen on the official website of DGCA.
Can the passenger appeal against DGCA's decision of ban?
Yes. The passenger is free to appeal against the decision of DGCA of ban within 60 days of committee's decision, which will be reviewed by the a panel set up by the Civil Aviation Ministry. In case, the Ministry upholds the ban then the passenger can appeal to the High Court.