Delhi HC directs DGCA to constitute appellate committee handling “unruly” air passengers

23 March, 2023 | Pragati Singh

flight National

Ministry of Civil Aviation forms an appeal committee in compliance with the DGCA CAR for Unruly Passengers.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to form an appellate committee within two weeks to hear the appeals of aviation passengers facing a travel restrictions. The court issued the directive in response to a plea filed by Shankar Mishra, who is facing a four-month restriction on air travel.

While dismissing the plea, Judge Prathiba M Singh also asked the petitioner, Shankar Shyamnaval Mishra, to submit an appeal to the committee within two weeks. The first hearing before the committee will be held on April 10, according to the court. Meanwhile, the committee will be formed.

The top court also stated that the 60-day window for filing an appeal had expired. The judge, however, authorised him to submit an appeal. The DGCA’s attorney claimed that the committee had arrived sooner. It was disbanded on February 9, 2023, when the chairperson resigned.

The attorney further stated that the committee was previously working. Nevertheless, instead of filing an appeal, the petitioner wrote an email. The chairperson is currently being appointed by the ministry. After noting the submission the bench observed, “The petitioner ought to have filed an appeal, instead of sending emails as at the time the committee was working.”

Mishra had petitioned the court for an order establishing an appeal committee to challenge the prohibition order. He faces a four-month suspension following an instance of disorderly behaviour while travelling from the United States to New Delhi.

On March 15, the High Court allowed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) time to file papers relevant to the formation of the appellate Committee hearing the pleas of disruptive Air passengers.
Shankar Mishra petitioned the court, requesting that the Ministry of Civil Aviation form an appeal committee in compliance with the DGCA CAR for Unruly Passengers.

He is accused of urinating on a woman on the November trip. He was detained after an FIR was filed. The judge then granted him bail. He has been barred from leaving the country for four months. He has appealed the Internal Investigation Committee’s decision.

The Petitioner filed a case through counsel Akshat Bajpai, claiming that he was travelling in business class on an Air India trip on November 26, 2022, when a co-passenger made baseless and fraudulent charges against him. According to the plea, the alleged co-passenger filed a complaint with the Airsewa grievance site on December 20, 2022.

According to the complaint received on December 20, 2022, Air India formed an Internal Inquiry Committee in accordance with the DGCA Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) for handling unruly passengers to determine whether the Petitioner should be designated as an unruly passenger under CAR and for how long the Petitioner should be banned from flying.

On December 24, 2022, the Investigation Committee sent a notice to the petitioner, and after conducting meetings, issued an order identifying him as an unruly passenger and prohibiting him from flying for four months, the petition was submitted.

The aforementioned ruling has factual and legal flaws since it utterly misunderstands the physical configuration of the aircraft and bases its findings on this incorrect knowledge of the aircraft, it noted.
According to Rule 8.5 of the CAR, a person who is dissatisfied with the Investigation Committee’s decision may file an appeal within 60 days after the decision with an Appellate Committee appointed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The Petitioner, who is dissatisfied with the ruling of January 18, 2023, wishes to appeal on the basis of factual and legal errors and has sent emails to the DGCA on January 19 and the Ministry of Civil Aviation on February 20, February 27, and March 6, according to the plea.

But, as of the date of filing of this Writ Petition, no such committee had been formed. According to the petition, it is an established legal position 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 the Petitioner’s right to exhaust all remedies available to him in accordance with the due procedure established by law.

The inactivity of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, it said, is directly infringing on the Petitioner’s rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.