India: SpiceJet puts influencer on no-flying list for 15 days for video of smoking in plane

The accused, however, claims that the video shows a dummy plane — part of an older shoot



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By ANI

Published: Fri 12 Aug 2022, 3:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Aug 2022, 3:02 PM

After a video of a man smoking inside a SpiceJet flight surfaced on the Internet, the carrier aircraft on Thursday said that the passenger was put on a no-flying list by the airline for 15 days in February 2022.

However, the accused — social media influencer Balvinder Kataria alias Bobby Kataria — claimed that it was a dummy plane, and it was a part of his shooting in Dubai.

"The video in which I was seen smoking is not a normal airplane, it was a dummy plane and that was a part of my shooting in Dubai. Taking lighter inside the plane is not allowed," said Kataria.

In the video, Kataria is seen lying down on the aircraft seat, lighting a cigarette, and puffing away.

In a statement SpiceJet said that the matter had been investigated thoroughly in January 2022 when the video was brought to their notice, and a complaint was filed with the Udyog Vihar police station in Gurugram.

"The video, the investigation had revealed, was shot on January 20, 2022, while passengers were boarding flight SG 706 scheduled to operate from Dubai to Delhi. The said passenger and his co-passengers shot the video on the 21st row when the cabin crew were occupied with completing the on-boarding procedure. None of the passengers or crew was aware of the act," the statement reads.

It further said that the matter came to the airline's notice on January 24, 2022, through social media posts.

"The matter was referred to the Internal Committee constituted as per the provisions of Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) on the handling of unruly passengers (not consisting of any SpiceJet employee). They said the passenger was put on a no flying list by the airline for 15 days in February 2022," the statement added.

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Defending himself, Kataria said that the video in question was an old video shot in Dubai.

"The video in which I was seen smoking is not a normal airplane, it was a dummy plane and that was a part of my shooting in Dubai. I want to ask everyone; how can a lighter make its way into an airplane? It would be detected by a scanner. A cigarette still one can carry, but not a lighter. It was shot in 2019 or 2020," Kataria insisted.

Meanwhile, reacting to a viral video of Kataria smoking inside a SpiceJet flight, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said that there would be "no tolerance towards such hazardous behaviour".

An investigation found that Kataria had travelled from Dubai to New Delhi via SpiceJet.

"The incident took place in January this year. Kataria boarded the SpiceJet flight from Dubai. A police complaint was lodged. Also, as per Civil Aviation requirements, an enquiry was conducted by SpiceJet. He was banned from flying on Spicejet flights for 15 days thereafter," said Scindia.

"[He] landed in Delhi on January 23. The video is not available on his FB/Insta page. The action was taken by the aviation security earlier," the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security told ANI.

Soon after its release on social media platforms, the video sparked a controversy regarding security concerns and law and order in the functioning of the airplane.

Another case has also been registered against Kataria at Dehradun's Cantt police station for allegedly consuming liquor in the middle of a road in Uttarakhand.

In general, a case has been registered under sections 342, 336, 290 and 510 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 67 IT Act, said Uttarakhand Police.


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