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Aviation secretary R.N. Choubey said the no-fly list  will be maintained by the Director General of Civil Aviation. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Aviation secretary R.N. Choubey said the no-fly list will be maintained by the Director General of Civil Aviation. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

No-fly list: Draft rules detail behaviour by unruly passengers that can lead to a ban

Aviation secretary R.N. Choubey presents draft rules for a no-fly list specifying three categories of behaviour by unruly passengers that will invite a flying ban

New Delhi:India will have a no-fly list in two months that would bar unruly passengers from flying on domestic carriers, the civil aviation ministry said on Friday.

Aviation minister Ashoka Gajpathi Raju, minister for state Jayant Sinha, and secretary R.N. Choubey presented the draft rules for a no-fly list in the capital, nearly a month after Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad beat up a senior Air India employee with a slipper.

“There was a civil aviation requirement which was brought out in 2014 (for unruly passengers) and in my wildest of dreams I never thought that an MP will get caught in it," Raju said on Friday adding that loopholes in the rules are being plugged.

“Keep professor Gaikwad out of it. Not all Indians are Professor Gaikwad so let us not get overboard on that. We need balanced regulation," he said.

As per the proposed rules, there will be three levels of barring—three months, six months and two years or more - depending the on level of misbehaviour. A passenger caught for verbal harassment and physical gestures will fall in the first slot. Anyone held for physical assault or sexual harassment will be in the second. Life threatening behaviour, including damage to aircraft and violence of any kind, such as a choking murderous assault, will attract a ban of two years or more.

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA will be the nodal agency for the no-fly list. It will seek comments for the next one month after which the rules will be crystallised and made into a regulation, possibly by July.

Air India did not declined to comment on the subject. Federation of Indian airlines which includes Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir also declined to comment.

Sinha said so one was above board and members of parliaments will also come under the same rules.

Professor Sri Ram Khanna of Delhi University who also runs a consumer magazine, said while the Gaikwad episode was sad, airlines had banned him without any inquiry.

“The passenger who is being targeted for unruly behaviour should be given a warning and told why his behaviour is unacceptable.The threat to ban must not be used to gag consumers who are complaining about poor services, violation of consumer rights and rules or negligence on part of the airline," he said.

As per the proposed rules, a person on a no-fly list will be informed by the airline in writing giving reasons and duration of the ban. The airline will form an internal committee with a retired district and sessions judge as chairman, a representative from a different schedule airline and a representative from a consumer association to review this decision within 10 days.

Other airlines can also ban the same passenger but the decision will be left to the respective carriers.

Passengers will be able to appeal against the ban to an appellate committee that will be set up by the aviation ministry. The appellate decision will be final and only be challenged in the high court.

Passengers recommended by security agencies will not have a right to appeal and will be put permanently on the no fly list, aviation secretary Choubey said.

Khanna said airlines in India fly 10 crore people yearly and the market is growing at 20%. This means 1 crore new people will fly every year and these are people coming from small towns who have never flown in a plane before, he said, adding that their social norms may be out of line with what is expected. There will be a learning curve of how to behave in a flight with co-passengers and people who are serving, he said.

“So while its welcome, it has to have safeguards for individual rights. In the name of civility in the plane, you cannot transgress my fundamental rights," Khanna said.

He added that the ministry should also empower these committees to handle consumer complaints against airlines.

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