[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Stand-up Comedian Kunal Kamra on Saturday sent a legal notice to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IndiGo Airlines, which has banned him from travelling with it for six months for allegedly heckling journalist Arnab Goswami on its flight. Following the ban by IndiGo, three other airlines – Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir – also banned him from travelling on their flights “until further notice”.
The legal notice seeks to immediately and with utmost expediency undertake to carry out the following action, namely:
To revoke the suspension of Kunal Kamra from flying with Indigo Airlines for a period of 6 months with immediate effect; and to tender unconditional apology towards him in all leading newspapers as well as electronic media and on all of the social media platforms currently being operated by Indigo.
To pay compensation to Kamra in sum of Rs. 25,00,000/- on account of the mental pain and agony suffered by him as well as losses incurred on account of cancellation of his scheduled shows and programmes in India as well as abroad on account of adoption of a totally illegal, arbitrary and high handed procedure which is against the extant DGCA CAR on the subject matter; and
To take action against the errant officials responsible for imposing the instant ban in abrogation of the DGCA CARs as notified under Rule 133A entailing imposition of penalty under S. No. 13 of Category III of Schedule VI of the Aircraft Rules, 1937; and
To pay a sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- towards the cost of the present legal notice
The legal notice reads “It is apparent that as a knee jerk reaction to the said tweet, in a completely illegal, high handed and arbitrary manner without following either the principles of natural justice nor the procedure in law as prescribed under the Civil Aviation Requirements, Section 3 – Air Transport Series M Part VI Issue II, dated 08.09.2017 as promulgated by the Office of the Director-General of Civil Aviation [hereinafter referred to as ‘CAR’], on 28.01.2020, you the Notice from your official Twitter handle at 8:49 PM proceeded to suspend My Client from flying with your airlines for a period of 6 months “as his conduct onboard was unacceptable behavior”. Suffice it to say that any social media platform such as Twitter is not a medium of official communication and the entire action of you the Notice in suspending My Client from flying smacks of arbitrariness and is completely contrary to the principles of natural justice as well as the procedure in law as prescribed under the CAR”.
The legal notice further says “it would also be relevant to highlight the well-settled legal position which has been expounded by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a plethora of judgments that the requirement of giving reasonable opportunity of being heard before an order is made, is generally read into the provisions of a statute and its allied rules, particularly when the order has adverse civil consequences. The audi alteram partem rule, in essence, enforces the equality clause in Article 14 of the Constitution and it is applicable not only to quasi-judicial bodies but also to any administrative order adversely affecting the party in question unless the rule has been expressly excluded by the Act, Regulation or Rule concerned which as you are well aware is not the scenario in the instant case”.
It adds, “lastly, it would also be pertinent to point out herein that you the Notice have acted in blatant violation and derogation of the extant instructions on the subject matter, namely the Civil Aviation Requirements, Section 3 – Air Transport Series M Part VI Issue II, dated 08.09.2017 as promulgated by the Office of the Director-General of Civil Aviation. It is asserted that compliance with the DGCA CAR is mandatory and failure to adhere to the same would render you the Notice liable and the persons so responsible for violation of mandatory DGCA instructions issued under Rule 133A liable for imposition of penalty under S. No. 13 of Category III of Schedule VI of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 entailing punishment of imprisonment of a term not exceeding six months, or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both. You are therefore strongly advised to revoke the ban imposed upon My Client and act in accordance with law failing which My Client will take all possible legal recourse for initiation of proceedings for a contravention of Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937”.