Even as tales of high-handedness, and indeed, downright degenerate behaviour by lawmakers, are dime a dozen, Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson PJ Kurien has argued for shielding them from the consequences. Kurien, bringing up the matter of the flying ban that many airlines had imposed on the likes of Ravindra Gaikwad, the Shiv Sena MP who hit a Air India official, and TDP’s JC Diwakar Reddy who got intro a spat with the ground staff of a private airline, said that airlines had no authority to impose such bans. On the face of it, Kurien’s pitch may seem logical—in case of a misdemeanour or a crime against an airline or its staff by a lawmaker, the law should be let to take its own course. However, the problem is that some offences may not constitute an outright crime under the law even though they would be perceived as serious violations of civil conduct—the Reddy matter, for instance. And in cases where it is a crime, it is more likely than not that the concerned lawmaker will get away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist—sometimes, not even as much.
Kurien and his fraternity would be better off keeping in mind that the civil aviation ministry announced guidelines in May for flying bans, and lawmakers/political leaders are not excluded. In any case, it is an accepted practice commercial concerns like restaurants, retailers, etc, to refuse to serve and evict unruly customers—and in case of repeat offences, debar them from entering. So, why single out airlines? Developed jurisdictions like the US have treated flying bans by their airlines as enforceable even though these have been hotly contested by those affected by it. An SP lawmaker who brought up the matter in Rajya Sabha considers flying bans on lawmakers a breach of privilege. Sad, that a lawmaker should hold evading the consequences of a violation as privilege.