GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
THE directorate general of civil aviation has taken a private domestic carrier to task for ‘allowing’ photography onboard a flight where paparazzi hounded controversial Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, who was travelling to Mumbai from Chandigarh. Citing the Rule 13 of the Aircraft Rules 1937, in effect, it has said that at a government airport no person will take, or cause, or permit to be taken, photograph at aerodrome and aircraft without the written permission of the appropriate authority – that is none other than the DGCA. The violation of in-flight norms will lead to suspension of scheduled routes of particular airliners for 14 days beginning the next day. Who really is responsible for things coming to such a pass? In the past, non-celebrity commuters have been at the receiving end of some ‘strict airliners’ for minor transgressions. There have, of course, been a few unruly elements, who invited action on them for flagrant violation of rules. But they are aberrations in the midst of celebrities and media persons who seem to have taken the rule-abiding passengers for granted. Are rules and regulations in place for preventing reporters from following politicians and film stars all the way to the aircraft? True, a person with a boarding pass cannot be barred from entering the aircraft. Once inside the aircraft, is there a sturdy mechanism to prevent all hell breaking loose? Evidently, from the moment the aircraft takes off to the time of landing there is little the airlines staff can do to prevent chaos. One cannot expect the ‘polite’ cabin crew to control the domineering bullies from running amok. So, the only way media persons, particularly paparazzi, can be restrained from going overboard is to take an undertaking from the concerned individuals that they either behave or don’t board the flight. A far-fetched proposition it may sound; but the DGCA and the airliners really do not have other options. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the aviation regulator should also dwell on the unpleasant repercussions its order may have on rule-abiding passengers who take photographs in waiting areas and in the flight for pure fun, with no malice, and without disturbing fellow passengers, for showcasing them on social media.