The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, the apex body of consumer courts in India, cancelled the compensation of over Rs 1.3 lakhs awarded to a student who had been ejected by Air India over transit visa problems.
The student, daughter of Sushil Kumar of Amritsar, had booked an Air India flight from Amritsar to Pittsburgh via Canada via the internet.
However, when the student turned up for the flight, she was refused entry as she needed a Canadian transit visa since her flight was routed through Toronto.
Air India refused to put her on an alternate flight free of charge.
Sushil Kumar managed to win the compensation from lower courts after arguing that if any transit visa was required, it was the duty of Air India to inform them of the same.
However, NCDRC ruled that Air India was not obligated to do so, and cancelled the Rs 1.3 lakh awarded by the district and state consumer fora.
“The carriage of contract is subject to the provisions of Carriage by Air Act, 1972, Indian Contract Act, 1972 and Conditions of Contract Relating to Non-International Carriage (Passenger and Baggage) laid by the petitioner Airline and hence, binding on the parties to the contract. The said terms and conditions are incorporated on the electronic ticket by reference to the website of the petitioner airline. The fora below have no jurisdiction to rewrite the contract which was already entered between the passengers and the Airlines and the said interference are also in derogation of the Indian Contract Act, 1972.
“The District Forum and the State Commission overlooked/ did not take into consideration the fact that the respondent/ complainant has had absolutely no cause for complaint, for he was himself negligent in not ascertaining the travel documents required for the itinerary chosen by him despite ample time from 25.06.2010 to 18.08.2010 and keeping the sector Amritsar/ Toronto open. The open status of first sector gives rise to the presumption that complainant was contemplating alternate routes and was holding the subject ticket only as a measure of reserve to meet any adverse situation of not getting seat on any other more economical route/ airline.
“The IATA General Conditions of Carriage (Passengers and Baggage) Article 7 expressly provides, “if the passenger fails to arrive in time at the Carrier’s check in location or boarding gate or appears improperly documented and not ready to travel, carrier may cancel the space reserved for the passenger and will not delay the flight. Carrier is not liable to the passenger for loss or expenses due to the passenger’s failure to comply with the provisions of this Article,” NCDRC said in its order.