Air Travel Ban On TDP MP Goes

JC Diwakar Reddy will henceforth be able to fly anywhere he wants to. He had to take a chartered flight to Delhi for casting his vote in the Presidential poll, as commercial airlines in India had refused to fly him.

Hyderabad: Airline companies in India have on Wednesday lifted their ban on TDP MP JC Diwakar Reddy from travelling by their flights.

The ban was first imposed by IndiGo on June 15 when the Anantapur MP got abusive after he was denied a boarding pass to Hyderabad from Visakhapatnam. He had arrived just 28 minutes before the flight, leading to the airlines’ refusal to let him fly. There is a video recording of Diwakar Reddy on the issue, which also shows him enraged and attempting to throw on the ground a printer of the airline company.

Following the IndiGo ban, other airline companies – Air India, Jet Airways, Spice Jet, Go Air and Air Asia, also refused to fly the TDP MP. So much so, he flew to Delhi by a chartered flight hired by his son to exercise his franchise in the Presidential poll.

The lifting of the ban comes just two days before the Hyderabad High Court is scheduled to hear a case filed by the MP questioning why the airlines have prevented him from flying. He argued in his petition that imposing a ban without a proper inquiry was unlawful and contrary to the rights accorded by the Constitution.

It may be recalled that the Hyderabad High Court refused to revoke the ban on him unless it had heard the other side of the issue. Accordingly, the court issued notices to various airline companies that imposed the ban, as also to the Aviation Ministry and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The court asked these parties to file their affidavits before July 21 when the case will come up again for hearing.

To perhaps avoid any possible awkward moments in the High Court, IndiGo and Air India announced lifting of the air travel ban against Diwakar Reddy on Wednesday, two days before the hearing. The other airline companies too are understood to have followed suit.

Understandably, the TDP MP has had his way and “upheld his prestige.” Even Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had asked him to resolve the travel ban issue against him “personally and swiftly”, after discussing the issue with Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who also belongs to the Telugu Desam Party.

But Diwakar Reddy instead approached the High Court seeking lifting of the ban. The pressure he thus sought to exercise on airline companies seems to have yielded result.

Prior to the episode involving Diwakar Reddy, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad too had been banned from flying by airline companies when he beat with his slippers a senior employee of Air India on March 23 of this year. The Sena MP was peeved that he did not get to travel by business class. The Air India flight from Mumbai on that day was, incidentally, fully economy class. The ban on Gaikwad was later lifted following an apology.

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