The government Friday announced the final rules for creating a ‘National No Fly’ list wherein unruly behaviour by air passengers could invite a flying ban ranging from three months to an indefinite period, depending upon the severity of the offence. These rules, which define three levels of unruly behaviour (see box), will be applicable for all Indian airlines engaged in domestic and international transport of passengers.
The move to create such a list follows several unruly incidents involving passengers, including Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad who allegedly assaulted an Air India staffer at the Delhi airport for not being allowed to fly business class.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the concept of a No-Fly List is based “on the concern for safety of passengers, crew and the aircraft, and not just on security threat”.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has revised the relevant sections of the Civil Aviation Requirement — CAR Section 3, Series M, Part Vl on Handling of Unruly Passengers — to bring in a deterrent for passengers who engage in unruly behaviour on board aircraft, the government said in a statement.
Airlines will be required share the No-Fly list with the DGCA, which will maintain the national No-Fly list on its website. However, other airlines will not be bound by the No-Fly list of a particular airline.
The Civil Aviation Ministry said the revised CAR would also be applicable to foreign carriers subject to compliance of Tokyo Convention 1963. The Convention allows a contracting country to impose its criminal jurisdiction on an aircraft in flight if there is a breach of flight related rules, in case the offence has been committed by or against a national of that country and if it harms its security.
While these rules deal with unruly behaviour on board an aircraft, similar behaviour at airport premises will be dealt with by security agencies concerned. “The DGCA is a safety regulator and the goal of this exercise is safety, which starts once you board the aircraft. If you are not on the aircraft, it is not within the legal scope or purview of DGCA,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Shri Jayant Sinha said.
The focus of the new rules have been on ensuring on board safety while maintaining an element of balance and safeguarding the interest of passengers, cabin crew and the airlines, Sinha said.
As per the rules, the complaint of unruly behaviour would need to be filed by the pilot-in-command and these will be probed by an internal committee to be set up by the airline. “The internal committee will have a retired district & sessions judge as chairman and representatives from a different scheduled airline, passengers’ association/consumer association/retired officer of the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum as members,” the government said.
As per the CAR provisions, the internal committee will have to decide the matter within 30 days, and specify the duration of the ban. During the period of enquiry, the airline may impose a ban on the said passenger. For every subsequent offence, the ban will be twice the period of the previous one, the government said.
The No Fly Lists will have two components — unruly passengers banned for a certain period based on examination of the case by the internal committee; and those persons perceived to be national security risk by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The latter component will, however, not be displayed on the DGCA website.
The revised CAR also contains appeal provisions against the ban. Aggrieved persons (other than those identified as security threat by MHA) may appeal within 60 days from the date of issue of order to the Appellate Committee constituted by the government.
The Appellate Committee will comprise of retired judge of a High Court as chairman and representatives of passengers association/consumer association/retired officer of Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum and airlines as members.
On how will the airlines would track an unruly passenger banned by them, Sinha said the government’s “digi yatra” initiative to be implemented soon will allow “unique identification to be associated with a PNR number”. Earlier he had said that this could be done by making an Aadhaar card or a passport mandatory for booking a ticket.