In November of last year, a passenger called Shankar Mishra allegedly urinated on an old female co-passenger, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Air India was fined Rs 30 lakh by the DGCA on Friday in connection with this incident.
According to a statement, the regulator also suspended the licence of the pilot-in-command of the New York-Delhi flight and fined Air India’s Director of in-flight services 3 lakh rupees for failing to perform her duties.
According to the PTI news agency, this was the first occasion the DGCA penalised an airline for disorderly passenger conduct on a flight. A representative for Air India stated in a statement that the airline has received the DGCA ruling and is analysing it.
“We recognise the gaps in our reporting and are making the necessary efforts to ensure that they are filled. PTI quoted the airline’s spokeswoman as adding, “We are also enhancing our crews’ understanding of and compliance with policies regarding the handling of instances involving disruptive guests.”
The regulatory agency issued show-cause notices to Air India’s Accountable Manager, Director of in-flight services, and all pilots and cabin crew members of that flight for failing to meet their regulatory requirements.
Air India bans Shankar Mishra for four months.
Air India barred Shankar Mishra from its flights for four months beginning on Thursday. This four-month ban goes into effect on January 18 and is in addition to the airline’s one-month ban implemented on December 20.
Air India stated in a statement, “The independent three-member Internal Committee, chaired by a former district judge, has concluded that Shankar Mishra meets the definition of an “unruly passenger” and is banned from flying for four months by the applicable Civil Aviation Requirements.”
The airline stated that it has provided the DGCA with a copy of the Internal Committee report and will also inform other airlines operating in the nation.
‘Disagree with findings’, say Shankar Mishra’s lawyers
The day after Mishra was banned from flying, his legal team stated that they disagreed with the committee’s findings and are already in the process of appealing this decision by the DGCA CAR for Unruly Passengers, according to the ANI news agency.
Mishra was represented by attorneys Ishanee Sharma and Akshat Bajpai, who stated, “We respect the authority and mission of the Internal Inquiry Committee, but we disagree with their findings and are in the process of appealing this decision by the DGCA CAR for Unruly Passengers.”
The attorneys also claimed that Air India had fabricated information in their ‘faulty’ report because they could not establish an “acceptable explanation” for the tragedy.
“When the Committee was unable to find an adequate explanation for how the accused could have urinated on the complainant seated in seat 9A without also affecting the passenger in seat 9C, it erroneously assumed that there was a seat 9B in the business class of the aircraft and imagined that the accused could have stood at this imaginary seat and urinated on the complainant in seat 9A. However, there is no seat 9B in the aircraft’s business class; only seats 9A and 9C are available, according to the statement.
The passenger urinated on herself, Mishra tells the court.
Mishra told a court in Delhi that the complainant urinated on herself due to a medical issue and then blamed him for the deed. Later, the complainant submitted a statement in which she deemed the charges to be untrue and disparaging. Mishra’s attorney, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, stood before Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Haryot Singh Bhalla and stated that the police inquiry was “a joke” because Mishra could not access her business class seat.
Gupta informed the court that, according to the complainant, the person who urinated on her was sat in 8A, whilst Mishra was in 8C. Even if the complainant made a mistake, the police “did not address this in their remand application.”
Gupta stated, “He was slandered in front of the entire nation and lost his position. Considering the seating arrangement, Mishra can’t have urinated on her after walking over to her seat. There was no way for her to gain access to her business class seat. Additionally, another passenger was seated next to her. If Mishra had urinated on her, it would have also landed on the 70-year-old female passenger. She has not made this complaint. The woman (the complainant) has urine incontinence… She is a dancer, and this problem is common among dancers. She urinated on herself and is now placing the blame on Mishra.
However, just a few days before this, Shankar Mishra told a court in Delhi that he was not trying to hide the knowledge that this was obscene and revolting behaviour. However, the complainant’s statement does not create a case for using illegal force to insult her modesty.
What has the court said till now?
The court currently detains Mishra. A Delhi judge denied him bail last week, deeming his actions “utterly revolting and abhorrent.” Metropolitan Magistrate (Mahila court) Komal Garg at Patiala House court denied Mishra’s bail, stating that the alleged act was sufficient to offend any woman’s modesty.
“The plaintiff and the defendant were total strangers. The accused’s alleged act of defecating the complainant is completely revolting and disgusting. The purported act alone is enough to offend the modesty of any woman. “The accused’s outrageous behaviour has shocked the public and must be condemned,” the court stated.
The court stated that the defendant did not deny his voluntary intoxication during the flight. The court said, “The claimed fact reveals the intent of the accused.”
Additional Public Prosecutor Shruti Singhal opposed the bail motion, arguing that the defendant was a wealthy and prominent individual who, if released on bond, could impede the inquiry by contacting the complainant. Singhal stated that an appeal against the rejection of police custody had been lodged.
Background of the case
The DGCA only became aware of the Air-India incident on January 4, and the most recent actions are for violations of different regulations.
Air India initially received the woman’s complaint on November 27 and began communicating with the afflicted passenger’s family on November 30.
The matter was brought to the company’s attention after the complainant sent a letter to Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekharan saying that her clothes, shoes, and luggage were reeked of urine and that the employees did little to assist her.
On January 6, 2023, the Delhi Police apprehended Shankar Mishra in Bengaluru. In the same case, the Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi’s Patiala House Court denied him bail.
Based on a complaint filed by the woman with Air India under sections 354, 509, and 510 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 23 of the Indian Aircraft Act, the police had filed a First Information Report (FIR) against him. As soon as the incident came to light, Shankar Mishra’s employer, Wells Fargo, released a statement terminating his job.