CASE ANALYSIS: STATION MANAGER, INDIAN AIRLINES V. Dr. JITESHWAR AHIR

           “Life is short, do not make it shorter with negligence.”

The situation in this case can be depicted precisely by this quote. Negligence whether committed by oneself or by others can cost one’s precious life which can never be bought back. No sum of money is sufficient in exchange of one’s life, as said

 “If the rich could hire the poor to die for them, the poor could make a very nice living.”

According to Winfield and Jolowicz, Negligence is the breach of a legal duty of care by the plaintiff which results in undesired damage to the plaintiff.

WHAT IS NEGLIGENCE?

“ Negligence is the breach of a legal duty of care by the plaintiff which results in undesired damage to the plaintiff.”

                                                             -BY WINFIELD AND JOLOWICZ.

                          Blyth v. Birmingham Water Works Co,

 Negligence was defined as the omission to do something which a reasonable man would do or doing something which a prudent or reasonable man would not do.

STATION MANAGER, INDIAN AIRLINES & OTHERS V. DR. JITESHWAR AHIR 

Parties to suit1.Dr. Jiteshwar ahir( Complainant)2.Indian airlines(respondent)
JurisdictionState consumer dispute redressal commission, Tripura at Agartala.(original)National consumer dispute redressal commission(appellate).
Bench (national level)1.V. balakrishna eradi J.2.S.S. Chadha J.3.Dr. R. Thamarajakshi (member).
Date of judgment( Final)28 February 1996
Application of statutory law in caseConsumer Protection Act 1986 (now repealed by Consumer Protection Act, 2019)

BRIEF FACTS OF CASE AS CONTENDED BY PARTIES

Complainant’s contentions

  1. The complainant, Dr. Jiteswar boarded a flight of indian airlines and one of the employees of the aircraft informed him that his luggage couldn’t be identified on the ground.
  2. So he was asked to leave the flight in order to locate his baggage.
  3. All this happened after he had already boarded his flight and occupied his seat, along with his other colleagues who were with him on the flight.
  4. Having been informed about his stranded baggage , the complainant moved towards the back door and found a step ladder attached to the aircraft. As soon as he was about to take a step on it the ladder was abruptly removed .
  5. As a result he fell straight on the ground suffering severe injuries.
  6. He was given medical assistance and then sent to the hospital. After getting professional assistance the doctors declared that he had suffered:

a.Traumatic Hemarthrosis in the left knee.

B.traumatic chest discomfort.

C.abrasion in the left elbow.

Respondents contentions

1.They contended that as soon as the complainant was about to make an exit , an air hostess screamed at him to stop as the step ladder was already detached from the plane.

Relief sought by complainant

A compensation of Rs. 10 lakh was claimed citing the entire incident took place due to the carelessness and inadequacy in services of the Indian airlines. They referred to the definition of section 2 of the Act of 1986 stating:

Section 2(1)(g) in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

(g) “deficiency” means any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service;

Contention against relief

1.As per Rule 30 of Carriage By the Air Act , 1972 

The complainant failed to make a complaint within a reasonable time period expressly given under the Act, hence his claim was time barred. 

2. But they still offered to pay Rs. 40000 as compensation being the statutory liability determined under provisions of Carriage By Air Act 1972.

Finding of the case by the state Commission

1.the airlines were negligent in providing the services leading to the complainant suffering severe injuries.

2.the complaint was filed within 3 years thereby making it triable by the commission as within the period of limitation.

3.the medical report as well as the expert report stated that the complainant even after an year from the accident had difficulty in squatting, pain in left knee and difficulty in long standing and waiting, moreover he had developed quadeicepatrophy and there was tear of meniscus which led to permanent disablement due to injuries sustained on left knee causing 10% disablement.

4. The statement of the opposite party was not sustained either by way of examination or by cross examination of the air hostess.

5.the guard tape which was required to be put across the rear door while clearance was not put across.

6.The step ladder was suddenly removed by the ground operator as soon as the complainant stepped on the stairs.

JUDGMENT

A compensation was awarded for 37 year old complainant which was fixed as:

Permanent loss of earning capacity Rs.4,00,000
Mental agony as well as feeling of inferiority in social  relation, inability to move freely without physical impediment etc.Rs.1,00,000
TOTALRs. 5,00,000.

It was to be paid within 1 month from the date of judgment falling which an interest would run till payment.

Cost Rs. 1000 be imposed on the respondent.

Appeal To National Consumer dispute redressal commission and the judgment given by them was:

1. The findings of the state Commission were upheld.

2. The compensation was just, fair and reasonable.

3.the appeal was dismissed with a cost of Rs. 1000.

PARTING WORDS

The Consumer Protection Act 1986 came to the rescue of the complainant here but still such an amount of compensation can’t help him to buy back what he has lost. Still the judiciary set an example which will result in these companies to realize the consequences of their negligence and provide quality of services. As the famous saying goes,

“One can get used to ugliness, But never to negligence.”

This article is written by Daman preet kaur, a final year student in 3 year LL.B course ,pursuing law from Punjabi university , Patiala.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lawyerservices.in

Indiankanoon.org

Casebriefs.com

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