A 72-year-old woman, at the centre of headlines after a co-passenger allegedly urinated on her on board a New York-Delhi Air India flight last November, has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and airlines to frame SOPs to deal with such incidents.
The woman said she was constrained to approach the court because Air India and the DGCA failed to treat her with care and responsibility after the incident.
"In addition, the wide-ranging national press reportage full of conjecture and surmises has severely undermined the petitioner's rights as a victim under Article 21 of the Constitution, and in fairness has also affected the rights of the accused as well. Their rights to a free and fair trial have also been substantially affected due to a selective leaking of the 'AIR SEWA' complaint of the petitioner, the FIR and selective witness statements being released to the media to match specific narratives," she said in her plea.
The petition said an absence of clear guidelines for media outlets on what requires reporting, whether they ought to make conjectures where matters are sub-judice, and the impact of media coverage based on unverified statements end up impacting the victim as well as the accused.
The petitioner further said her intentions were inspired and motivated in the interest of the general public and are a sincere attempt to set up a framework within the airline industry so that such incidents are prevented, and if they do occur, they are dealt with in a manner that does not cause additional trauma to the passengers.
She also sought a direction to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry and the DGCA to ensure that Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) norms adhere to the highest standards laid down internationally.
The woman sought directions to the DGCA and the airline companies to comply with legal requirements of the SOPs, operation manuals and reporting protocols to be followed by airline crew and staff.
On January 31, a Delhi court granted bail to Shankar Mishra, who has been accused of urinating on the woman on the Air India flight from New York to Delhi.
The trial court had granted the relief to Mishra on a personal bond of ₹ 1 lakh and a surety of the like amount.
It had also imposed various conditions on him, including that he will not tamper with evidence, influence witnesses or contact them in any manner.
Mishra was asked not to leave the country without permission and to join the investigation and trial as and when called upon by the investigating officer or the court concerned.
He was arrested from Bengaluru on January 6 and sent to judicial custody by a court here on January 7.
The accused allegedly urinated on the woman in an intoxicated state in the business class of the Air India flight on November 26 last year. A magisterial court had on January 11 denied bail to Mishra, saying his act was "utterly disgusting and repulsive, shocked the civic consciousness and needed to be deprecated".