Air India urination case: Victim moves SC seeking zero-tolerance policy for unruly fliers

The traumatised 72-year-old woman in her plea asked for guidelines on alcohol policy on international flights of Indian carriers to protect passengers and airline staff amidst other rules.

Published: 20th March 2023 03:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2023 04:42 PM   |  A+A-


Representational image. (Photo | Pexels)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A 72-year-old woman, who was urinated upon in a New York-Delhi Air India flight last November by an allegedly inebriated passenger, has approached the Supreme Court for a direction to DGCA and all airlines to frame mandatory Standard of Procedure and zero tolerance rules to deal with unruly passengers.

Hema Rajaraman sought direction for Directorate General Civil Aviation to include in the CAR (civil aviation requirements) an explicit zero-tolerance policy concerning "unruly/disruptive behaviour", which would mandate reporting to it and to law enforcement, failing which action would be taken against the airlines in all cases.

"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 plea said.

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The plea argues that the DGCA has no policy with respect to the quantity of alcohol that can be served on Indian carriers internationally, though the serving and consumption of alcohol is banned on domestic Indian flights. The plea also calls attention to the availability of alcohol at airport bars and restaurants.

The plea calls for the DGCA to amend the Passenger Charter to include the rights and recourse for passengers subject to any sort of abuse by staff/passengers, including redressal mechanisms for victims via an ombudsman.

The plea also highlighted how media reports on the incident concerning her were "full of conjectures and surmises". The petitioner asked the court to consider how media reports based on conjectures may affect sub-judice cases in the absence of clear guidelines.

The plea said that the petitioner's suffering was compounded when the crew "coerced her to enter into a settlement with the passenger who urinated on her". 

"She continues to deal with the trauma of the incident," it said.

The plea also said 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 made to sit on the "very same seat that was wet and smelled of urine", the plea added.

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In the present case, the Petitioner was coerced into reaching a settlement with the urinating passenger, when the flight staff should have respected the Petitioner's request to be kept away from the perpetrator and followed their obligation to report the matter to law enforcement officials.

"This is evidence that the airlines' SOP for dealing with unruly/disruptive behaviour may be insufficient and/or insufficiently enforced,” it added. 

Accused Shankar Mishra was arrested from Bengaluru on January 6 for the incident of November 26, 2022, for urinating on a woman in the business class of the flight. The accused was granted bail later.

READ MORE | Air India urination incident: Drunk man not in senses but buck stops with pilot, says co-passenger

The plea also states, “DGCA deals with such incidents on a 'case to case' basis and is therefore inconsistent in the actions they take against such airlines. The notion that a person committing such crimes can go free without attracting any penal charges also shows that passengers are not made aware of the guidelines.”

The petition also 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."

(With inputs from ANI)

India Matters


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