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DGCA issues show-cause to notice to IndiGo for refusing a special-needs child to board a flight at Ranchi airport

Published : May 16, 2022 20:04 IST T+T-
An Indigo aircraft at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, on May 12.

An Indigo aircraft at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, on May 12.

In a decision that could have a wide ramification on how airlines in India treat paying passengers, especially the differently abled, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Indian civilian airline regulator, has issued a show-cause notice on May 16 to IndiGo airline for “non-conformances”.

The DGCA’s notice comes in the wake of the airline refusing to allow a child with disabilities from boarding a flight on May 7 at the Ranchi airport. The ground staff at Indigo had taken the decision not to allow the 13-year-old who was travelling with his parents after evaluating that he was in “a state of panic” and would, therefore, be a risk to other passengers. The IndiGo ground staff had also stated that the child with special needs would have to first become “normal” before he could travel. According to a fellow passenger who witnessed the unfolding drama, the IndiGo staff also used language that was inappropriate.

IndiGo had stood by the decision of their ground staff. Commenting on the incident, IndiGo had stated that the airline had made the family comfortable by providing them a hotel stay and facilitated their departure to their destination the next morning.

Taking suo motu notice of the incident, the DGCA had dispatched a fact-finding team to Ranchi to inquire into the incident. After the inquiry, the DGCA has stated that “prima facie” there had been an “inappropriate handling of passengers by the Indigo staff thereby resulting in certain non-conformances with the applicable regulations”.

The DGCA went on to state: “In view of this, it has been decided to issue a show cause notice on IndiGo through its authorised representative to explain as to why suitable enforcement action should not be taken against them for the non-conformances”.

However, IndiGo has been provided an opportunity for a personal hearing as well as for written submissions on or before May 26. The DGCA, after hearing IndiGo’s submissions, would take appropriate action as per law.

While the dust is far from settling on IndiGo’s refusal to allow a special needs child to board a Ranchi-Hyderabad flight, Syed Mujtaba Hussain Kirmani, former Indian cricket wicket keeper and 1983 Cricket World Cup winning hero, called Frontline to voice his grievance on how he was shabbily treated by IndiGo staff at New Delhi airport’s Terminal 3.

Seventy-two-year-old Kirmani, who was returning to Bengaluru from Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh via Delhi, explained that his flight from Dharamshala to Delhi landed late and despite Tejasvi Surya, Bengaluru South Member of Parliament, helping him, he was two minutes late in reaching the check-in counter to board his flight to Bengaluru. The IndiGo staff cited rules and refused him a boarding pass.

But what angered the former swashbuckling wicket keeper more was the fact that IndiGo refused to accommodate him on an alternative flight. Kirmani claims that he was forced to buy a ticket and fly to Bengaluru.