The Centre has said that it will review the decision of five airlines – Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and Jet Airways – to bar Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from flying with them. “Any action undertaken has to be lawful; it has to fit in with the general provisions of the law and the Aircraft Act. We have to see whether this action is within the framework of the law,” Minister of State for Aviation Jayant Sinha told The Times of India.
Apart from these five airlines, Tata Group carriers - Vistara and AirAsia India - have also decided to issue a no-fly order on Gaikwad after he hit an Air India staffer multiple times with his shoe during a discussion about seating arrangements on Thursday.
The Federation of Indian Airlines and Air India has announced in a joint statement on Friday that they had banned Gaikwad from flying on any of their planes. On Friday, the national carrier cancelled his return ticket, while IndiGo cancelled his ticket from Delhi to Pune. FIRs have been lodged with the Delhi Police against the legislator, who was forced to take the train back to Mumbai.
However, Union Minister of State for Law and Justice PP Chaudhary told ANI that there is no law that bars anyone from travelling anywhere. “If someone has committed a crime, he can be punished. But denying a ticket is seriously wrong,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gaikwad lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police on Friday, alleging that Air India had made him travel in the economy class even though he had booked a business class ticket – the reason he had given for hitting the airline employee 25 times with his sandal.
Air India had explained that the plane he had chosen to fly on was economy-only, and that the first-time MP from Maharashtra had refused to take a different flight. The MP has been unrepentant for his actions and has refused to apolise. On Friday, he said he would do it again if needed.
The Shiv Sena on Thursday night sought an explanation from Gaikwad. “The Sena does not condone violence of any kind. We have also sought a version of the incident from the Air India staffer,” said Harshal Pradhan, media adviser to party president Uddhav Thackeray.
Gaikwad represents the right-wing party from Maharashtra’s Osmanabad constituency.