Comedian Kunal Kamra has sent a legal notice to IndiGo airlines, which had banned him from travelling with it for six months for heckling journalist Arnab Goswami.
Kunal has sought a revocation of the flying ban and an ‘unconditional apology’ from the carrier to be published in al leading newspapers, electronic media and on social media.
The comedian has also sought compensation of Rs 25 lakh “on account of the mental pain and agony suffered by him as well as losses incurred on account of cancellation of his scheduled shows and programmes in India as well as abroad on account of adoption of a totally illegal, arbitrary and high handed procedure which is against the extant DFCA CAR on the subject matter”.
The legal notice dated 31 January has also sough action against officials responsible for imposing the ban on him. Besides IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir have also banned him from travelling on their airlines “until further notice”.
In the legal notice, Kunal Kamra has said that by trying to engage in a conversation with Arnab Goswami he was exercising his right to freedom of speech and expression. Moreover, the journalist had not filed a complaint nor had he requested the intervention of the cabin crew at the time, states the notice.
The notice goes on to call IndiGo’s six-month ban on him, “completely illegal, high handed and arbitrary manner without following either the principles of natural justice nor the procedure in law”. Furthermore, the notice states that in “restricting his freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India” the flying ban has impinged upon Kunal’s freedom of movement as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution as well as his personal liberty enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution
The airline has been given a period of seven days to respond to the legal notice.
On January 28, Kunal Kamra confronted Arnab Goswani on a flight and recorded a video of the incident which he later shared to Twitter. In the 1.51 minute video, Arnab can be seen seated on the flight wearing shades and earphones as Kunal proceeds to question the TV anchor about his journalism and ethics.
“I am asking coward Arnab Goswami questions about his journalism and he is doing exactly what I expected him to do... is being a coward. First, he called me mentally unstable and now he’s saying, ‘I’m watching something,’” he can be heard saying in the video.
Meanwhile, the pilot-in-command of the IndiGo flight has told the airline's management that he was "disheartened" to learn the carrier took action against the comedian without consulting him and solely on the basis of social media posts.
"As captain of 6E5317 Mumbai-Lucknow flight on January 28, I do not find...events reportable in any way. Mr. Kamra's behaviour, while unsavoury, was not qualifying of a level 1 unruly passenger. Indeed, we pilots can all attest to incidents similar and/or worse in nature that were not deemed unruly," the captain said in his email to the airline's management which has been accessed by PTI.