The complainant was employed in Saudi Arabia and took leave from his employer there and came to India before which he got a re-entry endorsement. He was to return Saudi Arabia within two months period on the day on which his visa to enter Saudi Arabia was to expire. Despite his having confirmed ticket to travel he was not provided a seat in the aircraft with the result he lost his job, which he could have continued for a further period of one year and nine months. Complainant said that he suffered great shock and mental agony the way he was treated by Air India. He fell unconscious and was hospitalized. He had to incur expenses for travel from his hometown Kerala to Bombay and back and also for stay in Bombay. Compensation was awarded.
The Manager, Air India Ltd. And The Chairman, Air India Limited vs A. Moideen Kutty And The Manager, Ashok Travels on 29/1/2002 ORDER D.P. Wadhwa, J. (President) 1. Appellants, Air India – national carrier, are aggrieved by the order of the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission holding them to be deficient in service and directing payment of compensation to the complainant who is the first respondent before us. Respondent No.3, Ashok Travels is the agent of Air India. Second respondent is the branch of Ashoka Travels at Ottapalam in the State of Kerala. They being the agents had been let off. It had not been proved that they had been in any way deficient in service. 2. Complainant, an Indian national, was employed in Saudi Arabia since 15.5.1990. He took leave from his employer there and came to India. Before leaving Saudi Arabia complainant obtained re-etnry endorsement. He was to return Saudi Arabia within two months’ period which expired on 23.9.1992. His visa to enter Saudi Arabia was to expire on this day. This was as per Hijara Calender. In spite of his having confirmed ticket to travel from Bombay to Riyadh of the Appellants-Air India he was not provided a seat in the aircraft leaving on 21.9.1992 or even on 23.9.1992 with the result he lost his job which he could have continued for a further period of one year and nine months. Complainant said that he suffered great shock and mental agony the way he was treated by Air India. He fell unconscious in front of the counter of Air India when he was denied seat in the aircraft leaving for Riyadh and his prospect of losing his job. He was even hospitalised. He had to incur expenses for travel from his home town from Kerala to Bombay and back and also for stay in Bombay. Complaining deficiency in service he filed a complaint before the State Commission. According to the complainant he is entitled to the compensation of Rs.22,16,002.00 but he is limiting his claim to Rs.10.00 lakhs within the jurisdiction of the State Commission. State Commission by the impugned order awarded him Rs.2,52,000/- for loss of salary for the period of one year and nine months in Saudi Arabia @ Rs.12,000/- per month, Rs.10,000/- for mental shock and agony and Rs.4,500/- for expenses incurred. Thus totalling Rs.2,66,500/-. 3. Appellants denied the allegations in the complaint and raised an objection about the territorial jurisdiction of the State Commission in Kerala. State Commission on the basis of pleadings of the parties noticed that three points arose for consideration: (i) whether Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has jurisdiction to entertain the complaint; (ii) whether there was deficiency in service on the part of Air India and their agents in not providing seat to the complainant; and (iii) to what relief complainant was entitled to. Confirmed ticket for travel by aircraft of Air India from Bombay to Riyadh was purchased by the complainant at Ottappalam in Kerala from agents of the Air India who was having its head office in Coimbatore in the State of Tamil Nadu. State Commission rightly held that it had jurisdiction in the matter. We think it is unfortunate that Air India should have raised such a technical objection to the jurisdiction of the State Commission when it has offices all over the country and resources to defend the case against it. Fourtunately, such a plea had not been pressed before us. The State Commission laboured hard to come to the conclusion that it had jurisdiction in the matter. 4. It is not disputed that complainant was having a confirmed ticket to travel by the aircraft of Air India by the flight AI 821 for travel from Bombay to Riyadh on 21.9. 1992. Complainant reached Bombay with his luggage. To his utter surprise he was told by the officials at the counter that his name was not in the list of passengers in flight No.821. Complainant explained to the officials of Air India of his plight and consequences of his not reaching Riyadh before 23.9.1992. They told him that he could fly by another flight of Air India on 23.9.1992 it, being a flight No.AI – 815. Complainant then reached airport four hours before the flight time on 23.9.1992. Again he was informed by the officials at the counter that his name was only in the waiting list. His luggage and ticket were returned to him. Complainant says that he felt a great shock and became unconcisous and fell down in front of the Air India counter. As noted above, he remained sick for one week and admitted to hospital in Bombay for treatment. Appellants admitted that complainant had a ticket booked from their agent through the Madras office of the Appellants ( Ticket No. 098-4208485031, sticker No. 227372 – Computer No. H7 N6B ). They say that there was some confusion because of the computer failure at Coimbatore and that one other person of the same name Moideenkutty though from Calicut was given a seat in the aircraft and that non provision of seat to the complainant was on account of a bona fide mistake which occurred due to failure of their computer system. According to the appellants the ticket of the complainant for his travel by Air India by their flight No.AI-821 on 21.9.1992 was booked by their agent at Coimbatore through the Madras Office of Air India due to non-availability of computer system at that time at Coimbatore. This is how the Air India has set up its case: 5. When the computer system was restored the follow-up action for this particular ticket, was taken up by the Coimbatore Office of Air India. Again the Computer system failed for several days and when the 2nd opposite party (respondent No.3) contacted their Coimbatore office, to find out the status of the booking the Coimbatore Office contacted the Space Control, Bombay, for name retrieval since the P.N.R. (Computer Number) of this ticket was not available with the Coimbatore office then. There was one A. Moideenkutty for whom a seat had been confirmed in flight No.AI-821 on 21.9.1992, through the Calicut Office, and the Space Control informed the Coimbatore office, that ‘A. Moideenkutty’ had a confirmed seat and without knowing that the said person, was another ‘A. Moideenkutty’ who had booked a seat through the Calicut Office of the Air India, the Coimbatore Office informed the 2nd opposite party, that the seat for the complainant had been confirmed and an O.K sticker was given to him. The name of ‘A.Moideenkutty (Anchukantan) with computer No.HB 4LD whose ticket had been confirmed was in the flight list for 21.9.1992 and he travelled in that flight. The complainant’s ticket had not actually been confirmed, and for want of seat he could not be provided with a seat in that flight. It was further averred that it was not due to any negligence on the part of the Air India but due to a bona fide mistake, caused due to failure of the computer system, for reasons beyond the control of Air India, that the complainant was advised that his seat had been confirmed for the flight on the 21st September, 1992. The complainant also could not be provided with a seat on the 23rd September, because the flight was over-booked and though his name had been included in the wait-list, no seat was available, because of lack of cancellation and fall-outs. The allegations in the complaint that the complainant became unconscious and that he was admitted to a hospital at Bombay and treated there are not known to Air India. 6. We do not think any more thing is required to hold that there is extreme deficiency in service on the part of Air India and it is rightly so held by the State Commission. This action of Air India-Appellants had not only caused the complainant to lose his job but also made him suffer a great deal of shock and mental agony and expense. Perhaps award of compensation for salary for the remaining period of contract of service by the State Commission amounting to Rs.2,16,000/- might not have been very correct but then the award of damages for mental tension and other expenses incurred by the complainant as awarded by the State Commission are too meagre. Complainant had wanted Rs.5.00 lakhs for shock and mental agony and the State Commission awarded only Rs.10,000/-. One can understand the condition of the complainant at that time when one puts himself in the place of the complainant.. 7. In the circumstances we are not inclined to interfere with the award of damages calculated on the basis of salary for the whole remaining period of employment of the complainant. This appeal fails and is dismissed with costs which we assess at Rs.10,000/-.