The government on Tuesday registered a case against US airliner Continental Airlines for having physically frisked former president APJ Abdul Kalam before he boarded their aircraft last April. The business of airport frisking
After the furore in both houses of Parliament over Kalam’s frisking, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security — the country’s nodal agency on air security — booked the airline under Section 11A of the Aircraft Act.
If found guilty, the staff concerned could be jailed for a maximum of six months or pay a fine of Rs 10 lakh.
In April, Kalam was frisked and asked to remove his footwear by the airline staff at the embarkation point at IGI when he was going from New Delhi to Newark (New Jersey) in the US.
In India, more VIPs are exempt from security checks than any other democracy. Over 32 dignitaries are exempt from security checks at airports, including President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Governor to even Ambassadors, High Commissioners and their spouses, Minister of State for the Union government, Attorney General of India, Cabinet Secretary, Chief Justice of High Courts, Deputy Chief Ministers, and all SPG protectees and Robert Vadhra while travelling with SPG protectees.
Experts, however, say as a general rule in Europe and also in the US, only heads of states travelling by their own aircraft are exempt from frisking.
In the absence of clear protocol guidelines, the international norm is to have a
reciprocal arrangement between the countries, while dealing with the issue of VIPs frisking.
For instance, a former president of India is expected to get the same treatment in the U.S., as a former American president gets in New Delhi.
In the Parliament, many leaders cutting across party lines wanted to know why the government was rolling out red carpets to ministers of many countries, when the courtesy is not extended to Indian ministers abroad.
Earlier during the day, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel tried to pacify angry members in Parliament who wanted strong action against the airlines. Terming the incident as “absolutely unpardonable”, Patel informed the Rajya Sabha that a show cause notice has been issued and “action would be taken in accordance with law” for breach of protocol.Continental Airlines, however, issued a statement defending its action, saying it was bound by aviation rules and as per the company’s policy, every passenger has to be frisked. There is no special rule for VIP or VVIPs. Surfers' response | Listen to podcast