Victim knocks on doors of SC for guidelines on unruly passengers

Air India pee-gate: Victim knocks on doors of SC for guidelines on unruly passengers | File Photo

New Delhi: The 72-year-old victim of the New York-Delhi Air India flight urination case has knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court for directions to the DGCA and all airlines regarding rules on unruly passengers. As per an ANI report, she has requested to frame mandatory Standard of Procedure and zero tolerance rules to deal with unruly flyers and onboard sufferers.

Zero-tolerance policy on unruly/disruptive behaviour

Hema Rajaraman sought direction for the DGCA to include in the CAR an explicit zero-tolerance policy concerning “unruly/disruptive behaviour”. This would mandate reporting incidents to it and to law enforcement, failing which action would be taken against the airlines in all cases.

The plea said, “Direct the Respondent No.2 (DGCA) that the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) dated May 2017 of the DGCA should consider “drunkenness” or “inebriation” on its own to be considered unruly/disruptive behaviour on an aircraft.”

The pleas further added, Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA to solicit the SoPs and the Operations Manuals as required under the law from the airline companies laying down procedures for handling unruly/ disruptive behaviour in airports and on aircraft, and to ensure that the same is in compliance with the DGCA norms.

Air India pee-gate incident

Air India Pee-Gate accused Shankar Mishra was arrested from Bengaluru on January 6. The incident went down on November 26, 2022, wherein Mishra urinated on a woman in an inebriated state in the business class of the flight. Mishra was granted bail later.

The plea points out faults of the cabin crew staff and states that the cabin crew “facilitated” the handing over of her mobile phone number to the man in order for him to “reimburse the cost of shoes, dry-cleaning, etc”. She was also made to sit on the “very same seat that was wet and smelled of urine”, she added.

Furthermore, the plea said that her suffering was compounded when the crew “coerced her to enter into a settlement with the passenger who urinated on her”.

The victim said “She continues to deal with the trauma of the incident”

The plea sought direction to the Ministry and DGCA to “set guidelines on alcohol policy on international flights of Indian carriers to protect passengers and airline staff, including setting limits on the quantity of alcohol served, without any discrimination based on the class of travel.” “Direct DGCA to amend its Passenger Charter to include the rights and recourse for passengers subject to any sort of abuse by staff passengers, which should include redressal mechanisms for victims via an Ombudsman and also parameters of compensation,” added the plea.

The petition referred to the statistics tabled in the Rajya Sabha on February 6, which show that only 63 unruly passengers were put on the ‘No Fly’ lists.

There would be numerous more incidents with no action taken, said the plea, adding, “With the world’s third highest air traffic, and with 132 airports, India needs to ensure that its passengers, both domestic and foreign can travel with a minimum of safety and security. Particularly with 150 million senior citizens forming a sizeable vulnerable group, positive steps must be taken to make flying safe.” The plea also highlighted how media reports on the incident concerning her were “full of conjectures and surmises”.

She asked the court to consider how media reports based on conjectures may affect sub-judice cases in the absence of clear guidelines. 

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