New Delhi: The British Airways has been directed by the apex consumer commission to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to an Indian scholar for not allowing him to board the aircraft from Philadelphia in USA to Delhi despite holding a valid ticket.
The airline had refused Rabindra Nath Pati of Odisha permission saying he did not have a transit visa for UK through which the flight would pass and due to this, he could only return nearly a month later by another airline at additional cost, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) noted.
"The facts of the case make it clear that the complainant had to undergo mental and physical harassment as he had to stay in USA for a further period of three to four weeks and could return to India only on July 17, 2004 and that also through the flight of another airline Alitalia," the NCDRC said.
The Commission also said "had there been any problem with the scholar`s travel documents, then Alitalia or any other airline would not have allowed him to travel on their ticket."
"It is clear, therefore, that British Airways have caused undue harassment and mental agony to the complainant without any reason and without any fault of the complainant," a bench presided by Justice KS Chaudhari said and directed British Airways to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to Pati who hails from Bhubaneswar.
The order came on the pleas of Pati and the airline challenging the order of the Odisha state consumer commission which had awarded the scholar Rs 72,896 as refund of the unused return ticket of British Airways and the amount spent on travelling by Alitalia.
The state commission had modified the order of the district forum by reducing the compensation of Rs 1,33,486 awarded by it to Pati.
Pati had moved NCDRC seeking enhancement of compensation, while the airline had sought setting aside of the state commission`s order. The airline had claimed Pati was refused permission to board the plane as his visa to stay in USA was valid from May 27, 2004 to May 29, 2004 and by June 22, 2004, when he was to return to India, his stay there was unauthorised and hence he required a transit visa for UK.
Pati, on his part, had contended his visa was valid for six months. He also argued he had not obtained a transit visa for UK as he did not have to go there.
The NCDRC, while allowing Pati`s plea, rejected that of British Airways, saying the airline should not have issued him a ticket for June 22, 2004 if it felt he should leave USA by May 29, 2004.