NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
ORIGINAL PETITION NO. 149 of 1999
Jaswant Rai Chopra & Anr. Complainants
Air Canada Opposite Party
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA
MRS. RAJYALAKSHMI RAO, MEMBER
MR. B.K. TAIMNI, MEMBER
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE K.S. GUPTA, MEMBER
Air travel deficiency in service complained by father and daughter. It was the father who travelled to Canada. Alleging harassment, humiliation, inconvenience to him by the airlines, father died during the pendency of complaint held right to sue does not survive under Section 6 of Transfer to Property Act, 1882 claim of transfer of sue also not maintainable as her suffering on account of her fathers suffering is too remote. Complaint dismissed.
For the Complainants : Mr. T.N. Razdan, Advocate
For Opposite Party : Mr. K.N. Tripathy, Advocate
Dated 21st February, 2003
This is a complaint alleging negligence by Air Canada, an International Air Carrier. There are two Complainants Ist Complainant Jaswant Rai Chopra was the passenger and 2nd Complainant Saroj Kapoor is his daughter and also his Attorney. There is a claim of Rs. 25 lacs as compensation for the harassment and humiliation which Chopra suffered on account of willful negligence on the part of Air Canada. Saroj Chopra also suffered a great deal because of the harassment and humiliation caused to her father.
During the pendency of the Complainant, Jaswant Rai Chopra died.
Air Canada, while denying any act of negligence on its part, has raised two preliminary objections one, that complaint cannot proceed since Jaswant Rai Chopra has died and two, that only the Court in Canada would have jurisdiction in the matter.
To understand the controversy, a brief resume of facts is required. Shorn of unnecessary details, Jaswant Rai Chopra took a flight from Delhi to go to Toronto. Air journey was in two laps- first, from Delhi to Frankfurt by Air India and second, from Frankfurt to Toronto by Air Canada. Jaswant Rai Chopra was 78 years of age and was traveling alone. He reached Frankfurt by Air India Flight on 12.2.1998. Thereafter, he boarded the plane of Air Canada at Frankfurt which was to take him to Toronto. To his great humiliation and shock, crew of the Air Canada offloaded him at Frankfurt. There was no cause to do so. Jaswant Rai Chopra felt great embarrassment in the eyes of his co-passengers as well. He was not given any cause as to why he was made to deplane. At Toronto he was to be received by his son. When Jaswant Rai Chopra was not a passenger by the Air Canada Flight on which he was due to reach Toronto his son panicked and tried to contact his sister, complainant No. 2. There was call from the office of the Lufthansa Airways, also an International Air Carrier, to Saroj Kapoor, complainant No. 2, to get in touch with her father at Frankfurt. When Saroj Kapoor talked to her father while he was at Frankfurt, Jaswant Rai Chopra told her about the humiliation, harassment and embarrassment caused to him by the crew of Air Canada. This made Saroj Kapoor also suffer because of the indignation, humiliation and embarrassment caused to her father. That is how she is also co-complainant in the Complaint.
Stand of the Air Canada has been that international Air Travel Rules make is mandatory for an Airline to provide an attendant to a person who is in need of the same and it was necessary to provide an attendant to Jaswant Rai Chopra. But it was not shown as to why it was necessary. Air Canada says Jaswant Rai Chopra did not understand English and he himself represented that he had difficulty in attending natures calls and having his meals all by himself. Since air Canada lacked facilities of an attendant, arrangements were made by it for Chopra to travel by Flight of the Lufthansa Airlines. It is stated that for this reason Jaswant Rai Chopra was deplaned.
Complainants have said that the plea put forward by Air Canada is nothing but cock-and bull story. There was no question of Jaswant Rai Chopra not understanding English language or was in need for any help. Jaswant Rai Chopra was a retired manager of Punjab national bank and had conducted transactions in English. When he came to India by air he managed his affairs himself and it was wrongful on the part of the crew of air Canada to refuse him to travel with an escort and offload him. There appears to be substance in what the complainants say. But since we are not proceeding with the complaint because Jaswant Rai Chopra has died we will say no more on the subject.
As far as the reference of suffering caused to Saroj Kapoor is concerned, it is too remote for us to go into that and to award her compensation. One can certainly understand her suffering when she found her father stranded at Frankfurt for no fault of his on account of negligence and improper behavior of Air Canada. She did get a shock but then as we said her claim for damage is remote as there is no consideration that passed from her to airline for which she could be compensated. She is not a consumer.
As far as Jaswant Rai Chopra is concerned, the cause of action which he brought by filing this Complaint was pursuant to his sufferings. Since he has died, his complaint is hit my maxim actio personalis moritur cum persona i.e. a personal action dies with the death of the person. Claim of compensation made by Jaswant Rai Chopra is not a chosen in action. It is not inheritable and assignable. Such a claim is not a property u/s 6 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
Section 6 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 reads as follows:-
6. What may be transferred Property of any kind may be transferred, except as otherwise provided by this Act or by any other law for the time being in force,-
(a) to [(dd)]
(e) A mere right to sue cannot be transferred.
We have not been shown by the Air Canada any provision under the Carriage By Air Act, 1972 which bars the jurisdiction of this Commission in trying this Complaint. However, this question is left open. Accordingly, this Complaint fails and is dismissed.