The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday issued India’s biggest airline IndiGo a show-cause notice after it barred a child with special needs from boarding a flight at the Ranchi airport.

On May 7, IndiGo officials had refused to allow the child and his family to board a Ranchi-Hyderabad flight saying that he was in a “state of panic”. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had ordered an investigation into the matter after a massive uproar and asked the airline to submit a report.

In a statement on Monday, the aviation regulator’s fact-finding committee prima facie found that the airline handled the passengers “inappropriately” and violated its rules.

A three-member team visited Ranchi and Hyderabad to conduct the probe, The Quint reported.

“The proceedings of the committee were partly held in the open and partly on camera as per the request of the affected family,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said.

The aviation regulator has asked IndiGo to explain within the next 10 days why “suitable enforcement action should not be taken against them”. The airline will also get an opportunity to present its side of the story in a personal hearing, the statement said.

“After hearing their submissions, appropriate action as per law would be taken,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation added.

The incident

The matter came to light after a woman identified as Manisha Gupta had shared the incident on Facebook on May 8. Gupta, who was a witness to the scene, had written that the Indigo officials said “behaviours such as this [of the child], and that of drunk passengers, deems them unfit to travel”.

Gupta had said that the child had an uncomfortable car ride to the airport and after going through security, he seemed to be hungry, thirsty, anxious and confused. She had said that the child felt better after he was fed and given medicine.

She wrote that the co-passengers had no objection to the child boarding the flight. Moreover, a group of doctors had offered to provide full support to the boy and his parents if any health episode were to occur mid-air.

In a statement, Indigo had claimed that the ground staff waited for the child to calm down till the last minute, but it did not happen. Gupta, however, claimed that the child had calmed down and was ready to board the flight.

The airline had said it was “distressed by the unfortunate incident”. It also offered to purchase an electronic wheelchair for the child as the matter escalated.