The minister told ET he’d called for a ban as the video evidence was clear and Kamra’s actions posed a safety threat. Under the rules, any allegation of midair misbehaviour by passengers has to be investigated by an internal committee set up by the carrier concerned. Based on the findings, the aviation regulator places a person on a no-fly list and other airlines follow suit.
“In this incident, the guy is shooting a video of the person — Arnab in this case, but it can be anyone — and trying to instigate him and even going to the extent of using fourletter words,” the minister told ET. “The person kept quiet in this case, but if the other person got instigated and there was a case of fisticuffs inside the aircraft, it could have become a safety issue. The airline must have done their internal inquiry & took a decision.”
He added: “As far the issue of rules is concerned, they are that airlines hold an inquiry upon the complaint of a pilot-in-command before banning anyone. That is to ensure that the airlines do not ban passengers arbitrarily. This case, however, is totally different, as there is a video proof.”
AirAsia, Vistara await written directive
After IndiGo banned Kamra for six months on Tuesday, state-owned Air India imposed an indefinite ban the same evening. Lowfare carriers
The Civil Aviation Rule (CAR) on such offences “is explicit,” a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official told ET. “The airlines will have to follow procedures. IndiGo will have to form a committee and decide on Kamra.”
Executives at the carriers that imposed bans said government officials had asked them to take note of the minister’s tweet and ban Kamra.
“It’s the minister’s order. Even if it’s in the form of a tweet, we have to follow,” said an executive.
An Air India spokesman said its internal committee is looking into the incident and had banned Kamra in the interim. An AirAsia spokesperson said, “Our internal committee is reviewing this case and a decision will be taken soon. We will take action as per due processes.”
Another executive said no other carrier can impose interim bans on a passenger until the relevant airline issues an investigation report.
Kamra had heckled Goswami on an IndiGo flight on Tuesday and tweeted a video of the incident. IndiGo then tweeted that it was banning Kamra for six months. #Kunalkarma trended on Twitter in India with users split down the middle.
Congress politician Shashi Tharoor backed Kamra.
“The truth is that it was time someone gave him (Goswami) a taste of his own medicine,” he tweeted. “These are the words he regularly uses to berate his innocent victims, except he does so in a hectoring, bullying manner & at higher volume & pitch than @kunalkamra88 does in this video.”
The truth is that it was time someone gave him a taste of his own medicine. These are the words he regularly uses t… https://t.co/Q2tMITEHYg— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) 1580216439000
Kamra was cited by the BBC as saying “It's not shocking at all to me that for exercising my right to speech, three airlines have given me a temporary ban.” He said he had followed the orders of the cabin crew and the only “damage” he had caused was to Goswami's “inflated ego.”
The comedian told ET he didn’t want to make further comment. “I have made statements on various social media channels and do not have anything else to add,” he said.
An airline executive said there had been no official communication as of Wednesday evening, apart from the minister’s tweet.
“There is no communication from the government on this and the rules say that any ban can happen only after the enquiry is complete,” he said. “The video of the incident is not explicit on whether the act of Kamra, who is heard instigating journalist Arnab Goswami in the flight, endangered the safety of the flight or not.
The minister said this had no similarity with an incident in which Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker Pragya Singh Thakur is said to have delayed a SpiceJet flight because she didn’t get the seat she had chosen.
“In that case, it was a seat allocation issue between the MP and the airline and was later dealt with,” Puri told ET. “This case, however, is totally different because one person has heckled another passenger inside the aircraft.”
The rules call for airline staff to “observe potential signs of unruly behaviour” and act on them in the initial stages rather than waiting for an escalation. In a statement, Kamra said he went back to his seat once he was asked to do so by the cabin crew.
If an airline gets a complaint from the flight commander, it may be referred to an internal committee, which then has to investigate and decide on the matter within 30 days. Pending the report, the person may be banned from flying for up to 30 days. If the committee fails to come up with findings in the stipulated time, the person can fly again.
To be sure, a serious offence that jeopardises flight safety may lead to a police report and arrest of the offender once the flight lands. Kamra wasn’t arrested. IndiGo imposed the ban hours after he tweeted the video and it went viral on social media.
Experts said that Kamra’s actions can be categorised as a Level 1 offence, which includes unruly behaviour, physical gestures, verbal harassment, unruly inebriation etc. Such an offence, if proven after the investigation, calls for a three-month ban. A sixmonth ban applies to physically abusive behaviour, which includes “pushing, kicking, hitting, grabbing or inappropriate touching or sexual harassment etc.,” according to civil aviation rules.
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35 Comments on this Story
Suresh Datta382 days ago
His ban is absolutely right.. you cannot heckle and abuse a fellow passenger on a flight risking a fist fight.It's a lesson to others. Just look at how China bans its citizens for unruly behaviour
Nalini Nayak389 days ago
Who so ever he may be , whatever credible joker he may be, no one has a licence to behave unbecoming of a gentleman on board and in find flight. You keep your concern in your bloody home , don’t disturb me, and allow me to enjoy flight and a sound nap .ok?
Rajshekher Garikapati393 days ago
Have you checked out Kamra's twitter page? He just might be the most unfunny comedian yet. If media repeat the "comedian" tag enough it may stick by the time he is ready to meet his Maker. His methods are unsavory enough. He photoshops every politician he doesn't agree with, posts it on his page and that's supposed to be funny criticism? In today's world, that's as funny as stammerers and stutterers in old Bollywood movie: Juvenile stuff!!