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Comedian Kunal Kamra has sent a legal notice to Indigo Airlines seeking revocation of the six-month ban imposed on him in the wake of a recent incident involving journalist Arnab Goswami.
Kamra has also sought compensation of Rs. 25 lakh from the carrier for “mental pain and agony” suffered by him, as well as action against the airline for contravention of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.
The comedian had posted a video of him confronting Arnab Goswami, with whom he shared an Indigo flight to Lucknow on January 28. N view of the incident, Kamra was subsequently banned from flying Indigo for six months. He was intimated of the same via a tweet from Indigo’s handle. Four other airlines followed suit, banning Kamra from flying with them.
The legal notice filed through Advocate Prashant Sivarajan of Lawmen & Whtie Advocates and Solicitors states that Kamra had initially approached Goswami for a conversation on the flight when the seatbelt signs were switched off. The notice states that when the signs came on, Kamra returned to his seat after the stewardess asked him to.
After takeoff, Kamra approached Goswami again, to no avail. Goswami replied that he was watching something and did not want to indulge in any conversation. At this point of time, Kamra proceeded to record a video of himself aggressively questioning Goswami. Again, when requested by the stewardess, Kamra immediately went back to his seat, the notice states.
It is also stated that at no point of time was there intervention by the cabin crew for unruly or disruptive behaviour on the part of Kamra.
The notice goes on to state,
“Moreover, at no point of time during the said exchanges between My Client and Mr. Goswami was there any complaint by the fellow passengers that such behavior was unruly, untoward or disruptive, much less posing any threat to flight safety. Even Mr. Goswami himself, towards whom My Client’s exchanges were directed, did not make any complaint nor did he request the intervention of the cabin crew at any point of time.”
It is also noted that after the flight landed, Kamra personally apologized to each crew member and both pilots for any inconvenience that may have unintentionally been caused.
In light of these facts, the legal notice states, the six-month ban imposed on Kamra was “illegal, arbitrary, unjustified, and non-est in law”.
The notice claims that neither the principles of natural justice nor the procedure in law as prescribed under the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) was followed in banning Kamra.
Given the fact that Kamra was notified of the ban via a tweet from Indigo’s handle, the notice states,
“Suffice it to say that any social media platform such as Twitter is not a medium of official communication and the entire action of you the Noticee in suspending My Client from flying smacks of arbitrariness and is completely contrary to the principles of natural justice as well as the procedure in law as prescribed under the CAR.”
Further, the notice states that Kamra does not qualify as an “unruly passenger” as per the definition under the CAR. This, because he complied with the instructions of the cabin crew and the pilot at all points of time.
Under the CAR, the determination of whether a person is an “unruly passenger” is made by the Internal Committee constituted under Para 6.1. Without any such finding by the Committee, no proceedings can be initiated against a passenger, the notice states.
“A bare perusal of Paragraph 6.1 would indicate that a complaint of unruly behavior from the pilot in command is a sine qua non for initiation of the procedure to declare a passenger as Unruly/Disruptive and then to take any further consequential thereof. In the instant case, it is submitted that to the knowledge of My Client, there is no such complaint made by the Pilot-in-Command regarding My Client’s behavior and therefore its stands to reason that no proceedings under the CAR could have been initiated against My Client, much less could any suspension be imposed sans the mandatory requirement of a complaint from the Pilot-in-Command.”
The notice goes on to point out that no Internal Committee has been constituted till date, and that this fact was confirmed by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on its official twitter handle.
Even for the sake of argument, it is assumed the Kamra is found guilty by the Internal Committee, the notice states that his conduct would at most amount to a Level 1 offence, which calls for a three-month ban.