A District Consumer Forum has directed Gulf Air to pay Rs 20 lakh as compensation to a man who lost his job, after the airline officials reportedly refused to allow him to board the flight on the grounds that his visa, which was in Arabic, did not allow him re-entry into Doha.
The man was working as a project manager with a private firm in Doha at the time of the incident. While reprimanding the airline for causing “unparalleled agony and harassment” to the complainant, the forum said the airline should be equipped with Arabic language translators at the airport.
The incident took place on October 17, 2008. The complainant, a Gurgaon resident, was to board a flight to Doha where he was working as a project manager with Insulation Engineering Company for a salary of 10,000 riyal. The complainant had come to India on August 22 that year with a return ticket for October 17. But when he reached the Delhi airport on October 17, he was denied a boarding pass on the ground that there was no endorsement for a re-entry journey on the visa which was in Arabic.
“The complainant stated that he was allowed re-entry till October 20, 2008. He also went to get the English version of the Arabic visa which mentioned that re-entry was allowed till October 20,” the New Delhi district consumer forum President C K Chaturvedi said.
The Manager of Gulf Air then apologised to the complainant and requested him to board a flight on October 18. However, on October 18, the the security officers of the airline again stopped him saying that he had no permission for re-entry to Doha.
The complainant said he lost his job since he couldn’t reach Doha on time. He then filed a complaint in the State Commission claiming Rs 25 lakh as compensation and an equal sum for loss of job. The complaint was then transferred to the District forum.
Gulf Air in its response said the complainant did not keep his documents ready. The airline also stated that the complainant was on probation and that he did not explain how he came to India during probation and why he wished to go back with just two days remaining for his visa to expire.
The forum, after examining the submissions by both sides, observed, “Gulf Air had failed to explain how its own official failed to read Arabic on the visa and why he was forced to bring the English version. The official of Gulf Air should be equipped to read Arabic or have official translators at the airport. The opposite party (Gulf Air) has nothing to do with his probation and coming to India on probation. OP (Gulf Air) by its imperfect handling of the passenger with valid documents caused loss of his job directly and caused unparalleled agony and harassment to complainant.”
“In our view the casual attitude of OP (Gulf Air) deserves condemnation and it is a case for punitive compensation. The loss of job cannot be compensated adequately by payment Rs 20 lakh, which is just 8-10 months of his salary in Doha. In view of the monetary limit of Rs 20 lakh which this Forum can award as compensation, we award a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to complainant and direct OP (Gulf Air) to pay the same,” the forum observed.