COIMBATORE: A Hindu Mahasabha leader along with two other lawyers, who were allegedly in an inebriated state, have been arrested on charges of harassing the crew and passengers of a Chennai-bound flight before it was to take off from here last night.
The three, Senthel Kumar, Raja, both from Perundurai, and Subhash Swaminathan from Trichy, who is Vice President of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha's Tamil Nadu unit, were today remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a court, police said here.
They boarded an Indigo flight at 10 PM last night. The trouble started before the plane took off when one of the three lawyers allegedly took photograph of an airhostess from his mobile phone which was objected to by the woman. Other passengers also protested against the behaviour and later the pilot stepped in and asked the accused to behave.
After an argument, the passengers threatened to get down from the plane if the lawyers were not deboarded from the aircraft, they said. Finally, the matter was reported to airport authorities who alerted the police. The three lawyers were detained by CISF personnel.
They were taken to a police station and put under arrest after questioning. The flight was delayed by one hour due to the incident. An FIR was filed in the wee hours today against the three lawyers under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 268 (public nuisance) and under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, police said.
The three accused were produced today in VI Judicial magistrate court which remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days.
However, the magistrate soon withdrew his custody order as questions were raised on whether certain sections can be invoked in the FIR. The matter was later posted for hearing after 3 PM.
IndiGo said three passengers who were scheduled to fly yesterday en-route from Coimbatore to Chennai were offloaded by the staff on grounds of unruly behaviour on-board.
The airline said that an FIR was filed with the local police authorities and the matter is now under investigation.
In a statement, IndiGo said that before take-off, the three passengers began taking pictures of the crew with phone and later deleted the same following the crew's request.
"Keeping in mind the convenience of passengers on board, the crew requested the IndiGo security manager to debrief the passengers to maintain decorum on board, in local language. On hearing the debrief, these passengers got verbally profane and threatened the airline staff. The security staff then escalated the matter to the CISF, who further off-loaded these passengers from the aircraft," it added.
Regretting the inconvenience caused to other passengers, IndiGo said customer satisfaction is core to its business.
"However, untoward conduct of this nature is of serious concern to us, and as a responsible corporate citizen we will take all necessary action to address this violation," the statement said.