In new no-fly rules precipitated by the outrage over parliamentarian Ravindra Gaikwad's assault on an airline manager weeks ago, the government today announced three-level classification of unruly behavior that includes sexual harassment and "murderous assault".
Passengers can be suspended from flying for three months to two years or more depending on how far they have crossed the line, said Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathy Raju. The rules will first be put up online for a month to draw public feedback.
Asked whether the rules were what could loosely be referred to as the "Gaikwad list", the minister replied, "Not all Indians are Gaikwads."
Disruptive behaviour such as physical gestures, abusive comments and drunken abusive behavior will be counted as Level 1 offences; physically abusive behavior and sexual harassment will be deemed level 2 offences; level 3 is for murderous assault or life-threatening behavior or damage to aircraft operating systems.
An airline can ban a passenger for these offences but other airlines are not obliged to do the same, says the government.
Passengers will be identified based on their Aadhaar card, said the minister, asserting, "You need to provide identity in order to make the journey."
Those who want to challenge the ban have a two-step appeal system. A three-member internal committee of the airline, headed by a retired district judge, will first examine the passenger's complaint. The next point of appeal will be an aviation ministry committee headed by a retired High Court judge.
Mr Gaikwad, who beat a 63-year-old Air India manager with his slipper 25 times by his own admission, was banned by airlines. The ban was cancelled recently after the lawmaker regreted the incident in parliament.
The minister said the new rules were not just about the Shiv Sena MP. "There were certain shortcomings in the existing framework...never in my wildest dreams did I think that an MP will be caught in this," he said.