Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Passengers with disabilities a 'bigger threat' as per India's Bureau of Civil Aviation Security

"Millions of passengers at airports across India go through pat-down security checks, often leading to delays and harassment, especially for persons with disabilities. An RTI application filed by a disability rights activist has now revealed why this is the case, even though technology exists that makes it unnecessary. Not only does the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) regard passengers with disabilities as a higher security risk but the agency has also been responsible for blocking the introduction of disabled-friendly safe full body scanners since it is still “exploring its feasibility at Indian airports keeping in view the privacy (issues) and health hazards from radiation”.

"BCAS, which is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India and comes under the ministry of civil aviation, appears to have not taken into account the fact that many nations, including the US, have shifted to the use of new technology at airports for reducing scanning time and inconvenience to the passengers."

Read the full featured article on my RTI expose "Passengers With Disabilities Pose ‘Higher’ Security Risk, Says Aviation Authority" here at 'The Wire':


I had faced  harassment from the airport security staff in February 2014, which was covered by both The Hindu and The Times of India.I filed complaints with the BCAS, the ministry of civil aviation and the chief commissioner of persons with disability. I then filed an RTI application on October 21, 2014 and followed it up with first and second appeals on November 12 and December 22, 2014.

Human dignity is a constitutional value and a constitutional goal. BCAS is humiliating people with disabilities though we are willing to help them by providing suggestions. That is why I am advocating the millimetre wave technology. In the recent landmark judgement in Jeeja Ghosh vs Spice Jet, the Supreme Court had categorically said, “Non disabled people do not understand disabled ones…. What non-disabled people do not understand is that people with disabilities also have some rights, hopes and aspirations as everyone else”.

If it had not been for the insistence of information commissioner Bimal Julka, a former director in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the BCAS would not have parted with any information. BCAS kept denying information on the pretext of national security,” However, Julka said the “appellant raised pertinent issues regarding safeguarding the rights of disabled persons who are harassed by screeners. The appellant also raised very important and critical issues related to the new and innovative technologies being adopted by various advanced countries for disabled”. Given the gravity of these issues, he directed BCAS to provide the relevant information. The CIC judgement is reproduced below:

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