Prevent highly intoxicated travellers from boarding the aircraft, limit alcohol intake, instal CCTV cameras and sensitise staff about sexual harassment are part of the detailed guidelines given by DCW to the aviation regulator amid rising incidents of unruly passengers on flights.
In a letter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Delhi Commission for Women said it has observed increasing incidents of disruptive and unruly passengers on flights in recent months, adding such incidents are extremely unpleasant and traumatising for the passengers.
"Media has reported recent cases of harassment and misconduct by passengers in two flights, one on November 26, 2022 in which a man reportedly flashed his private part and urinated on a 70-year-old woman in an Air India flight from New York to New Delhi and another on December 6, 2022, in which a man again urinated on the seat of his fellow woman passenger on an Air India flight from Paris to New Delhi. It has been reported that both these men were in a highly inebriated state," the panel said.
It said it has taken suo-moto cognizance of these incidents and issued a notice to DGCA, seeking details of the action taken by them along with the guidelines issued by the regulator to airlines for tackling such cases.
"In response, the panel was provided a copy of certain guidelines by DGCA along with a copy of the advisory issued by DGCA dated January 1, 2023 to be followed by all airlines.
"Upon examining the guidelines and the advisory, the commission has observed that these do not provide specific instructions to airlines to properly handle, report, and redress cases of sexual harassment of female passengers at airport or on flights. Further, they don't list out any steps to deal with highly intoxicated passengers," it noted.
The commission has drafted detailed recommendations on the amendments that should be made to the prevalent guidelines so that cases of sexual harassment and unruly behaviour are dealt with strictly on flights and in airports.
The recommendations include action against highly intoxicated persons, including preventing such persons from boarding the aircraft, protocols to handle such passengers on plane and severely limiting alcohol intake on flights.
It has also proposed action against persons indulging in sexual harassment on flights. These include registration of FIR against the offender, setting up an independent committee to probe the complaints of sexual harassment from passengers headed by a retired woman judge, increasing punishment against such passengers including increasing time period for which they can be put on no-fly list from six months to two years, sensitising airline staff and setting up protocols for using restraining devices on passengers indulging in sexual harassment in case all other means of stopping him on flights fail.
The panel also noted that the crime of sexual harassment is simply treated as an ‘unruly behaviour’ by the DGCA guidelines.
"This is unacceptable as it belittles the trauma faced by sexual harassment survivors and prevents proper handling of such cases," it said.
The commission has therefore recommended creation of separate category for crimes of sexual harassment.
In the guidelines, it has also proposed setting up mechanisms to raise an alarm on flights, CCTVs to be installed in aircraft and announcements and brochures against sexual harassment in flights.
The commission has also proposed stronger action to be taken against airline and crew members for failure to implement a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.
It has also sought greater accountability from airlines and DGCA in this regard and has recommended that a monthly report should be shared by DGCA with the Ministry of Civil Aviation on the sexual harassment cases reported on flights and in airports as well as action taken against them.
The Delhi Commission for Women has sought an action-taken report in the matter within 30 days.
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