The Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) "prima facie" found that IndiGo staff had handled a specially-abled child inappropriately on May 7 in Ranchi and issued the airline a show-cause notice.
The DGCA said on Monday that the notice has been issued to IndiGo over "non-conformances" with regulations. The airline has to respond by May 26. It added that appropriate action under the law would be taken after hearing the submissions.
Child boarding incident: Aviation regulator DGCA says passengers were handled inappropriately by IndiGo staff at Ranchi airport— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) May 16, 2022
The aviation regulator had on May 9 formed a fact-finding committee to look into the incident in which IndiGo had barred a specially-abled boy from boarding a Ranchi-Hyderabad flight he was "visibly in panic". As the boy was prohibited, his parents accompanying him also decided not to enter the plane.
The proceedings of the committee were partly held in the open and partly in-camera in line with the request of the affected family, said the DGCA.
It said, "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."
In view of this, it has been decided to issue a show-cause notice to the airline through its authorised representative to explain why suitable enforcement action should not be taken against them for the non-conformances, said the DGCA.
It added, "To meet the ends of justice, the airline has been provided an opportunity for a personal hearing as well as for making written submissions in the next ten days from today i.e. till May 26, 2022. After hearing their submissions, appropriate action as per law would be taken."
When asked about the DGCA's statement on Monday, IndiGo said, "We have received the communication from DGCA on the matter and will respond in due course."
The regulator had on May 9 announced that its three-member fact-finding inquiry team will investigate this incident and submit a report within a week.
IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta had expressed regret over the incident and had offered to buy an electric wheelchair for the specially-abled child. Dutta had said the airline staff took the best possible decision under difficult circumstances.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had said on Twitter that no human being should have to go through this and he is investigating the Ranchi incident.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had on May 9 asked the Jharkhand police to lodge an FIR against IndiGo as there was a prima facie violation of section 7 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, which is cognisable in nature.
NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo had also asked the DGCA to initiate an inquiry into the matter and take necessary action against the airline and its manager.
(With PTI inputs)