Former civil aviation secy changes mind,seeks airport security exemption as EC

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had then strongly favoured reducing the list of VVIPs.

Written by Ajmer Singh | New Delhi | Published: May 19, 2013 3:25:27 am

AS civil aviation secretary,S N A Zaidi had strongly advocated reducing the list of over 30 categories of VIPs exempted from security checks at airports. As Election Commissioner,Zaidi has raised the matter again — now he wants to be exempted from frisking at all Indian airports.

In a letter to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in the first week of May,Zaidi said that as EC he enjoys the status of a Supreme Court judge and was,therefore,eligible for exemption from frisking.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Supreme Court judges are exempted from security checks at airports,and Zaidi noted that all election commissioners enjoy the same status.

Zaidi told The Sunday Express that he would not like to comment on the matter. Asked about the change in stance from the time he was a civil aviation secretary,he said: “That was in a different context. In any case,it is for the Ministry of Civil Aviation to decide on this.”

It was in March 2012 that Zaidi had sought pruning down of the number of VIPs allowed pre-embarkation security exemption. He had told The Indian Express then that during an India-US Aviation Security Group meeting,the issue of security checks had been discussed. The Ministry of Civil Aviation had then strongly favoured reducing the list of VVIPs.

He had stated that the US authorities suggested that the list of VVIPs be pruned to four or six categories,and had objected to the inclusion of former presidents,former prime ministers,chief justice of India and Supreme Court judges in those exempted from security checks. While these categories are subjected to frisking at US airports,they are granted exemption in India,said the official.

A top BCAS official had then told The Indian Express: “We have always objected to this huge list of dignitaries exempted from frisking and want it pruned to four. We have made a formal request to the Civil Aviation Ministry to prune the list… Ideally,it should include just the head of state and head of government.”

Current Civil Aviation Secretary K N Srivastava confirmed receiving a request from Zaidi,and said it was under consideration. Once a review of the list of VIPs exempted from frisking is complete,a final decision shall be taken,he said.

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