In a rare move, aviation watchdog DGCA has filed a police complaint against 34 pilots of Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir for allegedly posting "obscene" messages on a WhatsApp group against its officials.
Acting on the complaint, Delhi police today questioned 13 pilots.
It is rare for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to file police complaint against pilots and in this instance, regulatory officials said some of the messages put out in a WhatsApp group were "really obscene".
DGCA Director General B S Bhullar confirmed that the regulator has filed the complaint against 34 pilots of Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir.
"DGCA has filed complaint (against the pilots) for making obscene remarks against DGCA officials on social media. Any action on that is for the police," Bhullar told PTI.
On whether any disciplinary action would be initiated against the pilots, Bhullar said it was up to the airlines to decide on whether to take action or not.
Sources said some of the "obscene messages" on the WhatsApp group were also put out on the social media.
A DGCA official said some pilots from Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir created a WhatsApp group and some content shared on it was "offensive and abusive".
The official also said that unconditional apology has come from the airlines' managements.
Earlier in the day, many of the pilots, including ten from Jet Airways, were questioned at the Lodhi Colony police station here.
"The pilots have been called in for questioning on the basis of a complaint by the DGCA. They have been called in for an inquiry," a senior police official said.
Thirteen pilots have been questioned, the official added.
A Jet Airways spokesperson said that a few of its cockpit crew were called to record their statements by local authorities in response to a complaint and the airline is extending its full cooperation to the authorities.
"The matter is under investigation and we are therefore unable to comment further. Jet Airways will take appropriate measures where necessary, as per the company policy and in compliance with local law," the spokesperson said.
An IndiGo spokesperson said appropriate action would be taken after an internal enquiry into the matter.
"We are looking into the charges and extending full cooperation to the DGCA in this matter. Basis the findings of our internal enquiry, we will take appropriate action," he said.
A SpiceJet spokesperson said no pilot of the airline has written any derogatory or obscene message against any DGCA official or made any comments on the draft DGCA CAR.
"One of our pilots had just forwarded some WhatsApp messages to a few friends and colleagues," he added.
GoAir said that "only one" of its pilots has been named in the complaint and the issue was "closed" now after the airline filed an unconditional apology along with the other three private carriers.
Last month, the regulator proposed norms that would require notice period of one year for captains and six months for co-pilots.
This draft Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) has been opposed by most of the pilots' groupings.
Meanwhile, as many as 10 pilots of the Jet Airways were kept out of flying duties for quoting incorrectly the designation of a senior DGCA official in a communique.
A communication, sent to the aviation watchdog opposing the proposal to increase the notice period for pilots to one year, in which the DGCA official's designation was written incorrectly, had backfired with an 'arbitrary' regulatory action against them, sources had said on Monday.