Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad has been banned from flying by five airlines — Air India, IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Go Air (the latter four being part of the Federation of Indian Airlines) — after he assaulted a 60-year-old Air India staff member for not getting a business class ticket (the flight was an all-economy flight with no business class seats) during his flight from Pune to Delhi.
Air India and IndiGo also cancelled Gaikwad's return ticket on Friday fearing backlash from employees.
The Air India staff member, Sukumar, who was assaulted by the MP, said on Friday, "They are public servants, elected by public. They need to behave in a decent manner. I had requested him to deboard the aircraft as the cleaning staff had to do their work. I am not scared at all. I have been dealing with the public. Many people get irritated by such issues."
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Eknath Shinde, a Maharashtra minister and a Shiv Sena member, tried to defend Gaikwad saying, "Turning violent immediately is not right, but it needs to be seen who started this."
The demand for an apology from the minister is, however, detracting from the enormity of the crime.
A civilian would have been arrested by police for hitting another individual, but the MP is protected by section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). On Friday, Gaikwad even dared Delhi Police to arrest him in a showcase of his power.
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"Under section 197 of CrPC, public servants, judges, etc. whosoever has committed an offence in pursuance to his duty there a sanction for prosecution is needed. It wouldn't be a subjective thing, but a factual one if the MP has acted in furtherance of his duty or acted beyond that. If he has not acted under the colour of his office and his action has no link to his official duty then the necessity for sanction can be brushed aside," Vivek Vidyarthi, Supreme Court advocate told International Business Times, India.
"There is no issue in filing an FIR, but then the court says that cognizance of the case can be taken in the case of a public servant only after due sanction. At the state of cognizance, the court will see if sanction was needed and it was under the colour of his duty or not," he added.
However, section 352 of IPC states that if guilty, an individual can be imprisoned for three months and a fine of INR 500 or both can be charged. Assault is a bailable and a non-congnisable offence.
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Commenting on the issue, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has said that suo moto cognisance can't be taken by Parliament as the incident took place outside. However, she said, "no MP is allowed to misbehave with anyone".
Here's the unedited video of the assault:
WATCH: Unedited footage of Shiv Sena MP R Gaikwad roughing up Air India staff (NOTE: STRONG LANGUAGE) pic.twitter.com/idFr8MpUTo— ANI (@ANI_news) March 23, 2017
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh told International Business Times, India, that for any lawmaker, it is must to have humility and compassion. "We are looked upon as role models in the society. Therefore any act of violence is condemnable," he added.
Social media has been agog with outrage against the MP for hitting the staff member and continuing to refuse to apologise. And people have been calling out the highhandedness of the MP for abusing his position.
Really a Shameful Act by #RavindraGaikwad If You are An MP, it doesn't mean You are above the law and can do anything. Must Apologise.— Rupika Kaushal Pabbi (@RupikaSharma6) March 24, 2017
#RavindraGaikwad his arrogance shall be his downfall! Should be made an example for other arrogant politicians! Such a disgrace this man!— Anonemo (@searchn4nothn) March 24, 2017
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