A consumer court has asked Air India to pay compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to two lawyers, after they successfully argued that the loss of their checked baggage had led to them being unable to present their case before a Supreme Court case causing their petition to be dismissed by the judge.
Advocates Sanjay Pandit and Dibakar Bhattacharya had flown to Delhi by Air India on August 13, 2017 to represent their clients in a Supreme Court hearing.
After two pieces of their checked baggage went missing, the two lawyers said that they had to enter the court using visitors’ passes as the guards would not allow them in without a black gown. Later when the petition was to be heard, the judge did not allow the lawyers to represent their clients as were not in appropriate lawyers’ attire.
At the West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, their counsel N.R. Mukherjee stated that Air India had not been able to trace the two bags that had contained case documents, their laptops and their gowns.
More Than ‘Material Loss’
Air India said through its lawyers that it would compensate for the lost baggage as per its airline rules. Under its rules, the compensation rate is Rs 450 for every kilo, which would imply that Bhattacharya and Pandit would receive Rs 11,700 for the two bags which had weighed 26kg.
However the chairman of the commission, Shyamal Gupta, stated in his order that in this case, it was more than just material loss. He observed that the petitioners had experienced “professional indignity” as the gowns and case-related documents had been in their checked bags.
The commission has cited two earlier consumer cases in its verdict.
Air India will need to bear the cost of litigation incurred by the petitioners as well as the ordered compensation both of which needs to be paid within 40 days. The litigation costs has been set at Rs 10,000 each. Any delay would attract an interest of 9 per cent, the order stated.
An Air India spokesperson refused comment on the matter stating that it was “sub judice”.