State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at Chandigarh enhanced the compensation amount — from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 lakh — to be paid to an associate professor of physics from Mohali who was deboarded from an Air India flight without any specific reason in 2015. The commission’s order came over professor Sardool Singh Ghumman’s appeal over the Chandigarh Consumer Forum’s direction to the national carrier’s to pay Rs 5,000 as compensation to him.
Ghuman, Associate Professor at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Longowal in Sangrur, stated that on September 6, 2015, he was on his way to Chandigarh after attending the European Nuclear Physics Conference at Groningen, Netherlands. At the New Delhi Airport, while the flight of Air India was to take off for Chandigarh, he was off loaded from the aircraft, without assigning any reason.
Ghuman had alleged that, a woman official of the Air India came to the plane and called him, in a “disrespectful manner” to collect the belongings and to get out from the plane.
He then gathered his bags and he was forcibly off loaded from the plane. Ghuman said that he approached the staff of Air India at the airport to know the reason, but to no avail. He thus hired a taxi for Rs 5,500 and drove down to Chandigarh. Ghuman filed a case against Air India at the Consumer Forum of Chandigarh.
In its reply, Air India pleaded that it was was the security agencies which detained the baggage of the complainant for a security re-check. Thus there was no deficiency in service or unfair trade practice on their part.
However, the forum, finding deficiency on part of the airline, directed Air India to pay Rs 5,500 taxi fare to Ghuman, along with Rs 5000 as compensation and Rs 5000 as cost of litigation.
Ghuman then filed an appeal at the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at Chandigarh. He said that the forum awarded a very meager amount of claim. He further pleaded that the forum did not consider the quantum of stress, which he had undergone and sought for enhancing the compensation amount.
The commission held that the Air India official, did not assign any reason for asking him to deboard the plane. The check in baggage was deposited with the airlines counter well before the flight timings, after duly getting it checked. Had there been any amount of suspicion regarding the contents of the bag, there was ample time to the airport authority to call over a PA System and ask them to remove his bag or get it rechecked in front of the concerned officials, the commission observed.
“…It is not admirable that for a person, who has represented our country in an international seminar to face such insult and stress…”, read the judgement released on April 4.