The Consumer Forum of Chandigarh has directed Air India to pay Rs 2.15 lakh to a city-based doctor for harassing him, as the doctor was made to wait on the flight and at the New Delhi airport for hours. Later, he was asked to go to Chandigarh by road. However, the doctor preferred to catch another flight of Jet Airways by paying Rs 4,025.
In the judgment released on June 19, the forum held Air India deficient in services, directed it to refund the airfare from Delhi to Chandigarh, which is Rs 4,025, to the complainant, and also pay him a sum of Rs 2 lakh as compensation for mental agony and harassment and Rs 11,000 as cost of litigation. Prof Virendra Singh of Chandigarh, who is a doctor of hematology at PGIMER in Chandigarh, had to travel to Nagpur and Delhi for taking DNB practical examination. He bought three air tickets of Air India from Chandigarh-Nagpur, Nagpur-Delhi, and Delhi-Chandigarh.
On September 6, 2018, Singh reached New Delhi airport about 3.50 am to board the flight to Chandigarh which was to take off at 5.55 am. But the flight never took off and he was made to wait on the airplane. Singh alleged that after being mentally tortured for around one-and-a-half hours, all the passengers were told to disembark about 6:30 am without assigning any reason. Then after waiting for about one hour at the airport, the staff told the complainant and other passengers that the take-off time of the flight had been revised and new boarding passes were to be issued.
However, no exact time of take-off was conveyed. After collecting the earlier boarding passes, the new boarding passes were issued whereby the new boarding time was changed to 8 am. However, the flight again got delayed, and the complainant was again made to wait. Then around 10.45 am, the complainant and other passengers boarded the flight which did not take off again. After being mentally tortured for around 1:30 hours on the airplane, all the passengers were told to deboard about 12.30 pm without assigning any reason.
Finding no other alternative, Singh purchased a new air ticket of the Jet Airways for Rs 4,025. Singh moved the forum on November 13, 2018, and alleged that he had undergone great stress as he was repeatedly contacted by his staff for giving clarifications to ailing patients and supplying upgradations in appointment timings.
The Air India in reply submitted that the first flight was canceled as the aircraft developed a technical snag. The second flight which the complainant boarded too did not take off as the plane had just arrived from another destination and was not thoroughly checked. The aircraft was not ready to fly because of the refilling of gas which required two hours. This flight was grounded too. There was no other aircraft available with Air India as all the flights were scheduled to fly to their destinations. The complainant was asked if he could share a taxi with others up to Chandigarh, which he refused. He chose to come back to Chandigarh by Jet Airways flight.
After hearing the arguments, the forum held that the Air India argument is that the flights could not take off due to some technical snags/defect. However, no report of any engineer regarding any technical defects/snags in the aircraft has been placed on record. “…Mere mentioning that the flights were canceled due to technical snags cannot be considered sufficient explanation to exempt the airlines from its liability…”, read the judgment. The other plea of the Air India that the complainant was asked to share the taxi with other passengers to Chandigarh but he refused to do also deserved to be rejected because they have not adduced any evidence to substantiate its version, observed the forum.