Air India urination case: How the accused Shankar Mishra made a U-turn and blamed the woman?

Days after being arrested on the charges of urinating on a woman mid-air in an Air India flight that was bound from New York to New Delhi, the accused Shankar Mishra made a U-turn by stating that he didn't commit the offensive act. Shockingly, he went on to say that the women urinated on herself. 

When the case came to the hearing on Friday- January 13 in a Delhi Court, Shankar Mishra made these surprise claims through his lawyer. In what has become his first submission since taken into custody, Mishra's counsel made the submission before Additional Sessions Judge Harjyot Singh Bhalla while arguing against the Delhi police petition in which the department sought a directive to revise the order passed by a magistrate court denying police from taking Mishra into custodial interrogation. 

By dismissing the plea from the police, the Judge said that the police can approach the magistrate court with a fresh petition. In his submission through his lawyer, Shankar Mishra said, "I am not the accused. There must be someone else. It seems she herself urinated. She was suffering from some disease related to prostate which several 'kathak dancers' seem to suffer from." 

Mishra's lawyer Ramesh Gupta said, "It was not him. The seating system was such that no one could go to her seat. Her seat could only be approached from behind, and in any case the urine could not reach to seat's front area. Also, the passenger sitting behind the complainant didn't make any such complaint." Gupta further accused the police and the press of turning the case into a joke. 

"The first complaint was made by complainant a day after the incident. What was the claim? To refund. That was done by the airline. The police and press have turned this case into joke. Was this case so big, was it a murder case that they reached Bangalore to arrest him and called him an absconder. He was removed from the job", Gupta contended. 

Responding to Mishra's submission and seeking for the fresh custody of the accused, the prosecution told the court that Mishra's interrogation was required to establish the sequence of events. The prosecution further said, "We also need to find out whether he had consumed anything else before boarding the plane, and how did he consume. Questions like where did he hide and why he was not appearing before the probe agency need to be answered. He had switched off his phone." 

While the prosecution said that they need sustained interrogation to find out who was hiding him, the Judge said, "You can go back to MM (Metropolitan Magistrate) with these grounds. It seems the grounds urged before me were not submitted before the MM. In case these grounds were not made before MM, no fault can be found with MM for not dealing with those grounds." "With this application is disposed of, the department can approach MM afresh with these grounds if it wishes so", the Judge added. 

The urination incident happened in last November. 34-year-old Shankar Mishra, the Mumbai-based professional, boarded an Air India flight on November 26, 2022, from New York to New Delhi. Mishra was seated in the row ahead of a 71-year-old woman on the flight and during the mid-air, he was under the influence of alcohol and he walked towards and urinated on her. The incident had soaked her clothes, shoes, and bag containing her passport. 

The issue came to light after the affected woman had complaint to Tata Chairman Chandrasekaran, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry, and the Delhi Police against Mishra and against the flawed response of the airline staff. After learning about the impending trouble, Shankar Mishra had gone absconding after which the Delhi Police formed special teams to apprehend him. Being accused of committing a disgusting and disturbing incident, Mishra was making headlines across the country.

Mishra's employer, Wells Fargo, fired him by stating that "This individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo. We are cooperating with the law enforcement agencies and ask that any additional inquiries be directed to them". Mishra was on the run and Delhi police formed special teams to nab him. An FIR was filed against him on January 4 based on woman's complaint and he was arrested in Bengaluru on January 6. 

Mishra was then produced in a court. The Delhi police had sought three-day custody of Mishra for investigation. However, the court denied police custody and sent Mishra to a 14-day judicial custody. A week after getting arrested, Mishra made a U-turn that he didn't commit the act and claimed that the woman urinated on herself.