Amid controversy over media frenzy on Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut's flight from Chandigarh to Mumbai on Wednesday, aviation regulator - the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA - has warned the airlines with a suspension of a flight for two weeks if anyone is found taking photographs in an aircraft against the government-mandated rules. The airlines have been told to act against violators or face action.
The aviation regulator, in a statement today, reminded the airlines that "no person shall take any photograph except in accordance with and subject to the terms and conditions of a permission in writing granted by the Director General, a Joint Director General, a Deputy Director-General or the Director of Regulations and Information of the Civil Aviation Department." The permission, however, is "not applicable when such aircraft is landing, taking off or on ground at a defence aerodrome", it said.
Stressing that the airlines often fail to follow these rules, "primarily because of lack of diligence", the regulator gave a tough warning to the flight operators. "It has been decided that from now on, in case any such violation occurs, the schedule of flight for that particular route shall be suspended for a period of two weeks from the next day." The flight operation shall be restored "only after the airline has taken all the necessary punitive action against those responsible for the violation."
"Such deviations result in compromise in maintaining the highest standards of safety," the DGCA underlined in the statement.
A report has been sought from IndiGo over alleged "violation of safety and social distancing protocol by media personnel on flight 6E-264" after the DGCA spotted the media frenzy on videos, sources said.
In videos that emerged online, reporters are seen violating government-mandated Covid protocols, speaking into their mics or taking mobile phone videos while reporting for their channels from the plane in the middle of a wild chase of actor Kangana Ranaut.
The 33-year-old actor was returning to Mumbai that day in the middle of a huge row with Maharashtra's ruling Shiv Sena.
IndiGo, India's largest private airline, said its own crew followed all protocol on that flight. "We would like to reiterate that our cabin crew, as well as the captain followed all the requisite protocols, including announcements to restrict photography, follow social distancing and maintain overall safety. IndiGo also followed the requisite protocol of documenting this matter in its post-flight report. We are committed to providing a safe, hassle-free experience to our passengers," the domestic carrier said.