New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) Air passenger Shankar Mishra, who is accused of urinating on an elderly female co-passenger on a New York-Delhi Air India flight, has moved the Delhi High Court seeking constitution of an appellate committee to hear his appeal against his designation as an "unruly passenger" and banning him from flying for four months.
As a single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh took up the matter, counsel for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stated that the committee is already in place.
The court then asked the DGCA counsel to place the constitution of the appellate committee before the court within a week's time and listed the case for the next hearing on March 23.
Mishra, who was arrested by the Delhi Police from Bengaluru on January 7 for allegedly urinating on a 70-year-old woman while in a drunken state on a flight last November, was granted bail on January 31 by national capital's Patiala House Court.
Additional Sessions Judge Harjyot Singh Bhalla had granted bail on the bail bond of Rs 1 lakh, holding that what Mishra has allegedly done is disgusting but the court is bound to follow the law.
Mishra has claimed in his plea where the DGCA, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India have been made respondents, that on December 20, 2022, the complainant woman filed a complaint against him on the Airsewa grievance portal.
Air India established an internal inquiry committee in response to the accusation. The committee issued an order on January 18, 2023, identifying him as a "unruly passenger" and banning him from flying for four months.
According to the petition, paragraph 8.5 of the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) for Handling Unruly Passengers provides that anyone who is unhappy with an inquiry committee's decision may file an appeal before an appellate committee established by the Ministry of Civil Aviation within 60 days of the decision.
"The Petitioner, being aggrieved by the order dated January 18, 2023 on grounds of the aforementioned factual and legal infirmities seeks to prefer an appeal against the said order and has written emails to the DGCA on January 19 and to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on February 20, 27 and March 6. However, no such committee has been constituted as of the date of filing this Writ Petition," the plea stated.
The plea further said that it is an established position of law that a statutory right of appeal is a vested right and the non-constitution of the appellate committee by the Ministry of Civil Aviation is eroding his right to exhaust all his remedies available unto him.
"As such, the Ministry of Civil Aviation's inaction is directly infringing the petitioner's rights under Article 21 of the Constitution," it said.