NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
Rajinder Pal Jaura (NRI)
29, Lady Bower Crescent,
(Through S.S. Chauhan
Authorised Representative) Complainant
1. The Secretary, Union of India
2. Air India through its Commercial manager
Himalaya House, Kasturba Gandhi Marg
New Delhi. Opposite parties
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA,
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE J.K. MEHRA, MEMBER.
MR. B.K. TAIMNI, MEMBER.
DNB Compensation - NRI came to India from Canada but denied boarding as the aircraft was full - claim of damages for not getting a contract - claim too remote to be considered - direction to give US $ 300 as compen
O R D E R
DATED THE 12th November, 2002.
JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA, J.(PRESIDENT)
This complaint pertains to DBC ( Denied Board Compensation).
Complainant, a Non-Resident Indian living in Canada, came to India on 11.8.97 by Air India flight originating from Toronto. According to him he had a confirmed ticket to go back to Toronto on 30.8.97 by Air India flight No. 189 starting at 11.20 PM. Complainant was in fact holding an open ticket for going back to Canada but he got it confirmed and reconfimred on 29.8.97 for his flight back to Canada. However, when the complainant reached at the airport on 30.8.97 to board the flight he was given a boarding pass after he had checked in and completed all the formalities. However, before he could board the flight he was told that the aircraft was full and complainant could not be accommodated in the flight.
Complaint is that complainant had a very important business meeting in Toronto at 10.00 AM on 31.8.1997. Complainant says he told the staff of the Air Canada at the airport that in case he missed the meeting he would suffer tremendous monetary loss which would adversely effect his business and would be against the decorum and business ethics. Air India, however, did not give any thought to the difficulty in which the complainant was put. Complainant said that there was exchange of hot words with the result he suffered a shock and also suffered chest pain and heart trouble. He was removed to Centure Hotel by air India. His request for medical help was refused. Complainant was put in another flight No. AI 125 by air India on 31.8.97 at 3.00 AM from Delhi to Mumbai from where he was put in another flight No. AI-863 of Air India by which the complainant travelled to London. There at the London airport he was shifted to Air Canada flight going to Toronto. This was done by the official of Air India. Complainant reached Toronto late in the evening of 31.8.1997 when the meeting which he was to attend was at 10.00 AM. Complainant sought Rs.60.00 lakhs as damages with interest @ 18% per annum. He also sought for cost of the proceedings.
As to the illness of the complainant which he alleged to have suffered at the Delhi airport, there is no evidence whatsoever. Since he could not be accommodated in the Air India flight on 30.8.97 he was accommodated at Centure Hotel at New Delhi and put on the next available Air India flight for him to reach Toronto on 31.8.97 though late in the evening.
Air India in its written version has justified its stand of over booking in the aircraft which is a phenomena to all international airlines. It is a case of DBC which was discussed by this commission in its order in the case of Dr. Arun Jain vs. Thai Airways International Ltd. (Original Petition No.80/97, decided on 21st March, 2002). Following the ratio laid in that case, in the present case complainant would be entitled to US $ 300 by way of compensation.
Complainant had brought on record a letter dated 1.8.98 from one Ashok Sunak, owner of Boss Rad inc. Scarborough, Ontario, MIH 2V7 telling him that his offer had been accepted and that complainant would provide to Boss Rad inc. with radiators for the term of one year at an approximate price of US $ 200,000 and that complainant would be paid quarterly US $ 50,000. It is then stated We feel that this arrangement will meet your expectations and be in the best interest for the both of us as agreed upon. Complainant was asked to meet on 31.8.97 at 10.00 AM at the office of Boss Rad inc. Then there is again a letter dated 1.9.1997 from the same Ashok Sunak as owner of Boss Rad inc. to the complainant which reads as under:
As stated in our previous letter we were to expect you at our office on August 31st 1997 at 10.00 am in order to confirm that you would be able to provide us with the appropriate amount of radiators at the agreed upon price. Since you were unable to meet us at our office, we are canceling any informal agreements made. We have given the order to another company. You can appreciate our companys decision. If you cant be present to sign a simple contract we have very little guarantee that you will be able to fulfill your part of the contract.
We are not impressed with such type of letters on the basis of which claim for damages amounting to Rs.60.00 lakhs has been made. This appears to us a self-serving document. Moreover, claim for such damages is too remote to attract any compensation. We had in the case of Standard Chartered Grindlays Bank Ltd. vs. H.B.
Impex Private Ltd. (First Appeal No.63/2001, decided on 25th September, 2001), considered the question of remote damages where we said that a distinction had to be drawn between normal and abnormal or unusual loss. Assuming what the complainant says is correct, Air India was not told at the time he purchased the ticket that in case he is denied boarding he will suffer a loss for which Air India has to compensate him.
Air India is right in its submission that if the meeting was so important why did complainant wait and choose the flight which was to reach Toronto on the early morning of 31.8.97 and when the meeting was stated to be at 10.00 AM. Mr. Chauhan who appeared as authorised representative of the complainant and his brother-in-law had referred to a newspaper cutting of the Indian Express dated March 10, 2000 wherein a report had been carried that paid passengers in the air India were off loaded to accommodate three passengers of the relatives of the pilots of Air India. We cannot comment on this report appearing in the Indian Express though it highlights serious anomaly in the operation of aircraft of Air India. In the present case, however, nothing had been alleged that complainant was off-loaded to accommodate any relative of the pilot or any free ticket holder. Admittedly, no amount of compensation till this date has been awarded to the complainant. There was no justification for the air India to withhold payment of DBC even if the complainant had not asked for it. Since it is the practice, unless agreed to otherwise to give DBC, in our view air India should have offered US $ 300 on 30.8.97 itself. But then while denying boarding to a confirmed ticket holder on the aircraft, Air India takes shelter behind the international practice of over booking, it should also follow the international practice of paying DBC.
We accordingly direct Air India to pay Rs.15,000/- with interest @ 12% per annum from 30.8.97 till payment, to the complainant. Complainant shall also be entitled to cost which we assess at Rs.5,000/-.
(JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA)