Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien on Thursday said that airlines cannot ban anyone from flying, including parliamentarians. He said the law of the land should take its course, a day after various airlines lifted the flying ban on Telugu Desam Party legislator JC Diwakar Reddy.

“Airlines are not given the authority to punish anybody… MPs are also citizens... if they commit a crime or mistake, the law of the land should take recourse to it,” the deputy chairman said in reply to Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agarwal, reported PTI. Agarwal had brought up the matter and said that, according to him, such actions were a breach of privilege of MPs.

The report added that Kurien further said, “It is a punishment imposed on an MP for some crime…this cannot be done. This is not a thing to be punished by airlines”.

When Congress MP Anand Sharma objected to using the word “crime” in this context and suggested that it be replaced with “violation”, Kurien said that beating someone up is, in fact, a crime.

Earlier this year, Shiv Sena MP from Osmanabad in Maharashtra, Ravindra Gaikwad, was banned from flying by Air India and several private carriers, after he assaulted a 60-year-old Air India staffer for not giving him a business class seat on a Pune-Delhi flight. After pressure from the Shiv Sena, the Central government stepped in and asked Air India to lift the ban on Gaikwad.