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Legality of No-Fly Lists in India

There was a furore recently when India’s national carrier Air India along with all private airlines banned a Member of Parliament from flying on their aircrafts after he assaulted an Air India staffer. This brought the issue of legality of no-fly lists in India into the spotlight.  

Our Managing Partner, Ramesh Vaidyanathan’s views appeared in “India Legal” on the legality of no-fly lists in India:

“The Carriage by Air Act, 1972 in Chapter V, Section 33, states: “Nothing contained in this Schedule shall prevent the carrier either from refusing to enter into any contract of carriage, or from making regulations which do not conflict with the provisions of this schedule”.

As this Act does not specifically prohibit blacklisting a passenger and identifies the right of a carrier to refuse to enter into any contract of carriage, it could be inferred that it may make regulations to blacklist an unruly passenger.

Also Rule 23 of the Aircraft Rules 1937 specifies: “No person shall, on board an aircraft: assault, intimidate or threaten, whether physically or verbally, any person, which is likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft or of any person or jeopardizes the good order and discipline on board the aircraft.” It provides for imprisonment of up to one year and/or fine not exceeding Rupees five lakh for contravention of Rule 23 of the Aircraft Rules.

The law of blacklisting of passengers is not clear as definitive guidelines are not available. While airlines can formulate their own safety procedures, they must exercise this option with caution. If the matter goes to court, it will try to balance the Fundamental Rights of the MP to freely move within the country (Article 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution) and the right to life of fellow passengers (Article 21).

In the case of the recent incident, a permanent or longer term ban will be disproportionate to the offence committed. Criminal law should take its own course in this case.”

For the entire article please refer to this link:                                          

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