Airlines Have No Authority To Impose Flying Ban On Anyone, Kurien Rules In RS
New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien on Thursday observed that airlines have no authority to impose a flying ban on anyone, including lawmakers.
The Deputy Chairman’s ruling came after SP member Naresh Agrawal raised in Upper House the issue of flying ban imposed by domestic airline companies, including state-owned Air India, on lawmakers for their alleged unruly behaviour. Agarwal asked if such restrictions can be imposed by airlines, as they amount to breach of privilege of the Members of Parliament.
Agreeing, Kurien said the MP has raised a “valid point.” He went on to add: “Airlines are not given the authority to punish anybody. I think the government should take note of it… MPs are also citizens… if they commit a crime or mistake, the law of the land should take its course.”
The Deputy Chairman further observed: “It is a punishment imposed on an MP for some crime… this cannot be done. This is not a thing to be punished by airlines”.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Anand Sharma suggested that the word “crime” be replaced with “violation”. Responding to it, Kurien said that if a lawmaker beats up someone, it is a crime.
Various airlines had imposed a flying ban last month on TDP MP JC Diwakar Reddy, who approached the Hyderabad High Court seeking redressal. The court had asked the involved parties, including the airline companies, to file their affidavits before July 21, when the case will come up for hearing in the court.
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 followed suit.
The flying ban on the TDP MP came following his spat with IndiGo staff at Visakhapatnam airport over non-issue of a boarding pass, “as he had come too late”. 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 his apology.
The ruling by the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman will come as a big relief to MPs, as they perhaps can no more be banned from flying by airline companies.