New Delhi: Days after IndiGo banned Kunal Kamra for a six-month period for allegedly heckling journalist Arnab Goswami on a flight, the comedian has sent a legal notice to the airline demanding an unconditional apology, revocation of the ban and Rs 25 lakh compensation.
In a legal notice sent to the airline on Friday, Kamra's lawyer asked the airline to "pay compensation towards my client in sum of Rs 25 lakhs on account of the mental pain and agony suffered by my client as well as losses incurred on account of cancellation of his scheduled shows and programmes in India as well as abroad on account of adoption of a totally illegal, arbitrary and high-handed procedure which is against the extant DGCA CAR (regulations)".
News agency PTI did not receive a response from IndiGo when asked about Kamra's legal notice.
Kamra was banned by India's largest airline for six months on Tuesday for allegedly harassing Goswami on the Mumbai-Lucknow flight.
SpiceJet, GoAir and Air India also imposed a similar ban on Kamra without specifying any period.
While aviation regulator DGCA had on Wednesday stated that the action by the four carriers is in "complete consonance" with its regulations, the pilot-in-command of the Mumbai-Lucknow flight had told IndiGo management on Thursday that Kamra's actions were "unsavoury" but not "unruly" and this incident was not "reportable in any way".
Kamra has given IndiGo one week time to respond to the legal notice.
In its legal notice to IndiGo's CEO Ronojoy Dutta, Kamra's lawyer Prashant Sivarajan said Goswami — against whom Kamra's "exchanges" were directed — neither made any complaint nor requested the intervention of the cabin crew at any point of time during the flight.
Kamra first came to know about his ban through the airline's post on Twitter on Tuesday night, Sivarajan said.
“It was only subsequently the next day at 9.38am that my client received an email from your consumer relations team officially intimating him about the six-month ban," said Sivarajan.
As per the 2017 rules of aviation regulator DGCA, if a passenger engages in any unruly behaviour, the pilot-in-command has to file a complaint and only then an internal committee of the airline can probe the matter and take punitive action based on findings of the investigation.
According to Kamra, the pilot-in-command has not made any complaint against him and therefore, as per the regulations, no action can be initiated against him, Sivarajan said.
The 2017 DGCA rules state that a passenger who verbally assaults anyone is deemed as "level 1" unruly passenger and he or she can be banned up to maximum of three months by the airline's internal committee.
Therefore, Sivarajan said, even if Kamra is found guilty by the internal committee, the maximum penalty under law is of three months. "Thus imposition of six months' ban is wholly illegal, manifestly arbitrary and non-est in law".
At the end of 10-page legal notice, Sivarajan asked IndiGo to "revoke the suspension" of Kamra from flying with IndiGo airlines for a period of six months with immediate effect".
The lawyer also asked IndiGo to "tender unconditional apology towards my client in all leading newspapers as well as electronic media and on all of the social media platforms currently being operated by you".
He also asked the airline to take action "against the errant officials for imposing the instant ban in abrogation of the DGCA CARs (civil aviation requirements) as notified under...Aircraft Rules, 1937".
Apart from the Rs 25 lakh compensation demanded for Kamra, Sivarajan also asked the airline to "pay a sum of Rs one lakh towards the cost of the present legal notice".