A Delhi court on Saturday sent a man accused of urinating on a female co-passenger on an Air India flight in November to judicial custody for 14 days, PTI reported. The man, identified as Shankar Mishra, was arrested by the Delhi Police from Bengaluru on Friday night.
According to the first information report filed by the police, Mishra had walked to the woman’s seat in the business class section in a drunken state, unzipped his pants and urinated on her.
At Saturday’s hearing, Metropolitan Magistrate Anamika at Delhi’s Patiala House Court rejected the police’s plea seeking three days custody of Mishra.
“Just because there’s public pressure, don’t do this,” the judge said. “Go by the law. PC [police custody] is not required for recording the statement of witnesses. They can be interrogated in his absence. Statements can be recorded, and there is no requirement of his PC.”
The judge noted the police’s submission that Mishra did not cooperate in the investigation. “Accused Shankar Mishra’s mobile phone was traced and he was located in Bengaluru,” the court said. “He could not even be traced at his workplace. The entire material points out that he was deliberately not joining the probe.”
Meanwhile, Mishra on Saturday filed a bail plea, which the court will hear on January 11.
The incident had taken place on an Air India flight from New York to New Delhi on November 26. But Air India filed a police complaint only on December 28 after the woman wrote a letter to Tata Group Chairperson Natarajan Chandrasekaran.
Mishra’s employer – United States-based financial services company Wells Fargo – said on Friday that it has terminated him from service. The company said that it finds the allegations against him “deeply disturbing”, adding that it holds its employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour.
“We are cooperating with law enforcement and ask that any additional inquiry be directed to them,” Wells Fargo said.
Mishra’s counsel Ishanee Sharma claimed on Friday that the woman wrote the complaint as an afterthought, ANI reported. She said that no witnesses came forward to say that that they saw the incident.
The counsel said that WhatsApp messages between Mishra and the woman showed that the man had got her clothes and bags cleaned after the incident, and that the woman had accepted her belongings back.
“She accepted compensation and not used words like ‘I don’t need it’ or ‘This won’t do’ in any message,” Sharma said. “Suddenly there was an after-thought, I want to call it a malicious after-thought, where they returned money...”
On Thursday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, India’s air safety watchdog, said that at first glance it appeared that Air India had not complied with provisions related to the handling of an unruly passenger on board. “The conduct of the concerned airline appears to be unprofessional and has led to a systemic failure,” it added.
The FIR stated that after the incident, Air India crew brought Mishra to the woman’s seat and forced her to negotiate with him.
The woman in her letter to Chandrasekaran accused the crew of being “deeply unprofessional” while dealing with a “very traumatic situation”.