The Chandigarh Consumer Forum directed the Air India to refund US Dollar 574, and to pay Rs 60,000 as compensation to the daughter of Dr Adarsh Sein Anand, former chief justice of India, for causing her harassment by charging USD 574 for a return ticket to San Francisco while the latter had arrived in India for the death of her father.
In the judgment released on September 17, the forum bench observed that “…death of Dr Adarsh Sein Anand, was a great loss to the country. Keeping into consideration the outstanding contribution made by Dr Adarsh Sein Anand, the Government of India conferred him with Padma Vibhushan, the highest civilian award of India…However, the Air India officials showed a total indifferent, callous attitude towards the said incident…and behaved with his daughter Jyotika Anand Malhotra very rudely, in a most unprofessional manner.”
Jyotika Anand Malhotra of Chandigarh stated that while she was in San Francisco, she learnt from her family about her father Dr Adarsh Sein Anand, (former Chief Justice of India) who is seriously ill and has been hospitalised in Noida. She thus booked a ticket to India through Air India, on December 1, 2017, and a return ticket by making a payment of USD 1424.46. On reaching India, Malhotra was shocked to learn that her father had passed away and cremation and other rituals could take several days, and thus she constrained to re-schedule the date for her return flight from December 16, 2017 to December 28, 2017. Malhotra stated that the Airlines reissued the ticket for the changed date and told her that no additional fees or fare difference was charged from her as it was waived off on account of death of family member.
The complainant alleged that on March 20, 2018, the Air India raised demand of USD 324 from her, though it had been waived off earlier. However, Malhotra paid the same but was surprised to receive another demand from the Airlines on June 29, 2018, for USD 250 as penalty for change in date of Air India flight ticket. Malhotra said that she she made a representation to the Airlines but to no avail, and thus she had to make a payment of USD 250 to the airlines. Alleging that the airlines in a malafide and unethical manner, have recovered a total amount of USD 574 for change in date, she filed a formal complaint at the Chandigarh Consumer Forum on July 31, 2018.
The Air India in reply submitted that the documents so submitted by the complainant seeking waiver on account of death of her father, did not match the parameters. The death of her father occurred first and thereafter the air-tickets were booked. While as per death certificate, the father of complainant expired at Metro Hospital, Noida in the morning of December 1, 2017. The complainant had booked her air ticket on night of November 30 from San Francisco, which is approximately 13 hours behind Indian Standard Time (ISD), therefore, hearing the demise news of her father, she booked the air ticket at about 09.59 pm San Francisco time on net on the night of November 30, meaning thereby the complainant had planned and booked her air ticket after hearing the death of her father.
The forum observed in the judgment that contentions raised by the Airlines justifying the claim of USD 574 in their reply, are totally untenable, rather “unethical”.
“The Opposite Parties once accepted the request of the complainant and changed the return flight from 16.12.2017 to 28.12.2017 without any condition, the demand of any charges at later stage from her, is totally unreasonable & unjustified.”
The forum thus ordered Air India to refund US Dollars 574 to Malhotra in her bank account, through which she paid the money to the Airlines, and also directed to pay Rs 50,000 as compensation for causing her immense mental pain, agony and physical harassment and to pay litigation cost of Rs 10,000 to her.