- Comedian Kunal Kamra heckled TV journalist on flight in January
- Soon after, Mr Kamra banned by 5 airlines for 6 months
- He filed petition challenging ban, which Delhi Court declined
Comedian Kunal Kamra's petition challenging the flying ban on him by most domestic airlines was rejected on Friday by the Delhi High Court, which disapproved of his conduct. "This kind of behaviour certainly cannot be permitted," said the High Court.
Kunal Kamra has been banned by five airlines for heckling a TV channel editor on an IndiGo flight in January. The ban followed a directive by the aviation ministry that drew much criticism.
Mr Kamra, a Mumbai-based stand-up comic known for his sharply critical views against the government and government-friendly media networks, was banned by IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir after he posted a video of his encounter with Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV. In the video, he is seen throwing questions at Mr Goswami, who doesn't respond.
Recently, Vistara also followed suit.
The airline ban triggered criticism from social media users who recalled how reporters working for Mr Goswami have frequently heckled opposition leaders in public places and on flights.
"Offensive behaviour designed to provoke and create disturbance inside an aircraft is absolutely unacceptable and endangers safety of air travellers. We are left with no option but to advise other airlines to impose similar restrictions on the person concerned," Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had posted on Twitter.
The ban by airlines is being investigated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA to see whether the companies violated rules. The pilot of the IndiGo flight too had written a sharp letter criticising the ban and saying he had not been consulted.
Mr Kamra has sent a legal notice to IndiGo, demanding a public apology, Rs 25 lakh for "causing mental pain and agony" and revocation of its six-month ban.
Many criticised the ban, pointing out that BJP MP Pragya Thakur, who faces charges in an ongoing terror case, was let off without any action after she had held up a flight last year and argued with crew and passengers after refusing to vacate a seat next to the emergency exit despite being on a wheelchair as required under aviation rules.