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Clean chit to two Air India pilots accused of sexual harassment

Friday, 30 October 2009 - 7:32pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI
The committee was set up to investigate the mid-air scuffle between co-pilot Aditya Chopra and flight purser Amit Khanna, during which airhostess Komal Singh was reportedly pushed.

An Air India probe panel today gave a clean chit to two pilots who were charged with sexual harassment by an airhostess in the wake of a mid-air scuffle between them during a flight from Sharjah earlier this month.


A senior Air India official said the five-member enquiry committee, which went into her complaint about the incident on board a Sharjah-Lucknow-Delhi flight IC-884 on October three, has concluded that whatever complaint airhostess Komal Singh has made regarding sexual harassment "is an after-thought".


The committee was set up on October six to investigate the mid-air scuffle between co-pilot Aditya Chopra and flight purser Amit Khanna, during which Komal Singh was reportedly pushed by Commander Ranbir Arora and Chopra.


Air India had then suspended Khanna and Chopra, pending enquiry. Komal and the Commander of the flight, Capt Ranbir Arora, were taken off duty to assist in the probe.

The enquiry committee chargesheeted Komal for allegedly violating conduct rules, not complying with the company policy and speaking to the media, insubordination and disobeying seniors. Komal has levelled molestation charges against two pilots of the airlines.


Air India GM (Personnel) Deepa Mahajan said actually it was not determined as sexual harassment behaviour in the cockpit. "They (pilots) have definitely pushed the flight purser and cabin crew from the cockpit because they told them to go out in view of flight safety. But when they did not do so, they pushed them but in no way it is sexual harassment," Mahajan said.


Komal has lodged an FIR with the police and also taken her case to the National Women's Commission, which has sought a report from the national carrier.

Air India said the altercation that had ensued in the cockpit was a flight safety issue and all the four employees involved had been charge sheeted, a regular departmental inquiry would be conducted and appropriate disciplinary action taken as per Standing Orders.


The airline had charge sheeted Komal for allegedly violating conduct rules, not complying with the company policy and speaking to the media, insubordination and disobeying seniors.


"The pilot had definitely pushed the flight purser and cabin crew from the cockpit because they told them to go out in view of flight safety. But when he did not do so, he pushed them but in no way it is sexual harassment," Mahajan said.

Air India said in the other case, Simrath Chopra, air hostess in Air India's subsidiary, Alliance Air, had complained of sexual harassment by Captain Devi Sharan.

Mahajan said Simrath Chopra has referred to something dating back to 1996-97 against Capt Sharan in her letter, which has not not been elaborated and also does not not fall under the purview of "sexual harassment".


 




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