The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday issued a show-cause notice to IndiGo after the airline barred a specially-abled child from boarding a flight from Ranchi to Hyderabad as he was in a state of panic.
This comes after Indias’s aviation regulator last week formed a three-member team to conduct a fact-finding inquiry after the boy was prohibited from boarding the airline’s Ranchi-Hyderabad flight.
“The proceedings of the committee were partly held in the open and partly in-camera as per the request of the affected family. The findings of the committee prima facie indicate inappropriate handling of passengers by the IndiGo staff thereby resulting in certain non-conformances with the applicable regulations,” the DGCA said.
In view of this, it has been decided to issue a show cause notice to the concerned airline through its authorized representative to explain as to why suitable enforcement action should not be taken against them for the non-conformances.”
The DGCA has given time till May 26 to IndiGo to respond to the show-cause notice. The regulator said, “After hearing their submissions, appropriate action as per law would be taken.”
Replying to DGCA, the airline said, “We have received the communication from DGCA on the matter and will respond in due course.”
Earlier, IndiGo said, “In view of the safety of passengers, a specially-abled child could not board the flight with his family on May 7, as he was in a state of panic.” The ground staff waited for him to calm down till the last minute but to no avail, it said.
The airline made the family comfortable by providing them a hotel stay and they flew the next morning to their destination, it said. “We regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers. IndiGo prides itself on being an inclusive organisation, be it for employees or its customers; and over 75,000 specially-abled passengers fly with IndiGo every month,” it said.
The incident was first brought to light by the Facebook post of a fellow passenger named Manisha Gupta, who saw the events unfold. Gupta wrote that while the child was uncomfortable after his journey to the airport and was reacting to that initially, his parents had since fed him, given him his medicine and calmed him down.
“The Indigo staff announced that the child would not be allowed to take the flight. That he was a risk to other passengers. That he would have to become ‘normal’ before he could be travel-worthy. And the staff then went on to state something on the lines of ‘behaviours such as this, and that of drunk passengers, deems them unfit to travel’,” Gupta’s post said.
According to her, there were doctors too waiting to board the flight, who said the child was fit to travel and that they were happy to keep an eye on him and provide medical attention if required during the flight. Other passengers too tried to intervene:
“One of them showed Supreme Court judgments on treating the specially-abled with dignity. The employee did not budge and kept saying that he was the final authority. While I had to leave around 7.45 pm, I saw the parents pleading from the other side of the glass doors to let them board, but no one moved.”