The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to hear comedian Kunal Kamra’s petition challenging the flying ban on him by several domestic airlines for heckling Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on an IndiGo flight in January.
Expressing disapproval over Kamra’s conduct, the High Court said, “This kind of behaviour certainly cannot be permitted.”
Kamra was banned by IndiGo and eventually four other airlines for his “unruly conduct” aboard the IndiGo flight from Mumbai to Lucknow on January 28 on the basis of a directive issued by the Ministry of Aviation. Soon after IndiGo banned Kamra in January, the government had urged other airlines to do the same. Air India, SpiceJet, GoAir and Vistara promptly announced that they were also barring him.
The ban on Kamra had triggered a huge controversy, with social media users pointing out that journalists from Goswami’s TV channel have been frequently seen heckling politicians on flights.
The IndiGo pilot who flew Kamra had asked why the comedian was put on the no-fly list for six months without consulting him and said that the decision had been taken solely on the basis of social media posts. “Kamra’s behaviour, while unsavoury, was not qualifying of a level one unruly passenger,” he had said. “Pilots can attest to incidents which were similar and/or worse in nature that were not deemed unruly.”
According to civil aviation rules, a person can be banned from flying for up to three months for a Level One offence that includes any unruly physical gestures or verbal harassment – including unruly behaviour by drunk passengers. However, the penalty can be imposed only after an internal inquiry headed by a retired judge is conducted.