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No-fly list: Govt cracks down on unruly passengers, minimum 2-yr ban for assault

Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju announced a No fly list and said punishment for unruly flyers will be between three months and two years or more.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2017 00:37 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
No Fly List‬,‪Ministry of Civil Aviation‬,‪India‬
The maximum penalty for unruly passengers will be grounding for two years or more, according to an announcement made by the civil aviation ministry on Friday.(Reuters File)

Being unruly on a flight can earn passengers a three-month ban, which can stretch up to a lifetime if someone jeopardises the safety of an aircraft, according to new aviation rules that came into force on Friday.

The rules are part of the government’s rollout of a national no-fly list to crack down on people who misbehave during air travel, an issue that gained attention earlier this year after a member of parliament beat up an elderly Air India staffer.

“We can never compromise on safety and security. The No-Fly ban will be in addition to any statutory legal action that can be taken against the offender under existing laws. Goes without saying, but since many have asked, the No-fly list provisions are applicable to every passenger. No exemptions,” civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said.

The rules are technically called the Civil Aviation Requirement. Offences have been graded into three levels, with the ban period increasing with the severity of the infraction:

Level 1: Unruly physical gestures, verbal harassment and unruly inebriation: Ban up to three months.

Level 2: Physically abusive behaviour (pushing, kicking, hitting, inappropriate touching): Ban up to six months.

Level 3: Life threatening behaviour -- assaults, damage to aircraft systems etc: Ban is minimum of two years and can stretch indefinitely.

A special Internal Committee will be set up to rule on complaints. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the committee will be chaired by a retired district judge, and its members will include those who represent the airlines and flyers. Representatives for the passengers can be someone from a flyers’ associations, a consumer rights groups, or a retired officer of the Consumer Forum.

One it receives a complaint against a flyer – which will need to be issued by the pilot in command – the committee will have 30 days to decide. During this period, the passenger will not be able to fly with the airline. In case the committee fails to take a decision in 30 days, the passenger will be free to fly.

Should a person repeat an offense, the airline will have the right to double the period of ban.

Appeals against a ban will be heard by an Appellate Committee that will be formed by the civil aviation ministry. This panel will include a retired high court judge as its chairperson. People from backgrounds similar to the passengers’ representatives in the internal committee will be its members. From the industry side, the representative will be an airline officer no junior than a vice-president level airline official.

Civil aviation secretary RN Choubey said it will not be mandatory for other airlines to ban the same passenger. Action can only be taken if passenger’s unruly behaviour has taken place inside the plane otherwise the agency has to approach the police for action.

The no-fly list will be available on the DGCA website.

It was in late March this year when Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad beat up an elderly Air India employee over seat allocation. A video of the assault went viral on social media, triggering nationwide outrage and forcing the politician to apologise in Parliament. Shortly after, the government announced it will bring rules to tackle such behaviour and put in force a national no-fly list.

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 14:02 IST