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Ms. Seema Dhamija vs. Air France Air Line Co. dated 2012-07-12


(From the Order dated 14.03.2011 in FA No.08/793/2008 of
State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Delhi)
Ms. Seema Dhamija                                                                                    Petitioner
D/o Ved Prakash Dhamija
R/o H.No.323 R,
Model Town, Yamuna Nagar
Through Ved Prakash Dhamija
Air France Air Line Co.
8th Floor, Tower-C                                                                           Respondent
Building No.8, DLF Cyber City
Phase-II, Gurgaon
Through its General Manager-India
For the Petitioner                 :         Mr. R.S. Badhran, Advocate
For the Respondent           :           Mr. Amir Singh Pasrich & Ms. Mohana Malhotra, Advocates
Pronounced on :  12th   July, 2012
At the outset, it is seen that there is a delay of 50 days in filing this revision petition. The petitioner has filed an application for condonation of delay explaining the reasons for the delay.  The petitioner has made the following submissions in her application:-
“2. That the Hon’ble National Commission announced the order on 14.3.2011 and send the certified copy of order, certified on 5.5.2011 through registered post which was received on 21.5.2011. As the petitioner is residing at Research Associate, CEEM, Indiana University Bloomington, in USA. The copy of the order passed by the State Commission was received by the father of the petitioner on 21.5.2011 at Yamuna Nagar and after receiving the same the father of the petitioner conveyed the order to her. As the petitioner found unable to reach at Delhi to file the revision petition and accordingly she decided to file the revision petition through her father and executed the GPA in his favour on 5.7.2011. The father of the petitioner after receiving the authority from her collect the necessary papers from the Advocate of the petitioner from Delhi and after that consult with the local Advocate at Yamuna Nagar for filing the revision petition. As the father of the petitioner is more than 75 years of age and due to his ill health, there is delay for obtaining papers and further for preparation and consultation etc.
3. That the delay in filing the present revision petition is neither deliberate nor intentional but on account of aforementioned circumstances.”
2.         We do not consider the aforesaid explanation as reasonable so as to constitute sufficient cause for condoning the delay of 50 days in question. It simply shows lack of diligence and sincerity on the part of the petitioner to pursue the matter. We are, therefore, not inclined to condone the delay and  her petition can be dismissed on this ground alone.
3.         Coming to the merits, the complainant/petitioner booked a seat for her journey from Lexington to Delhi via Atlanta and Paris in the Economy class of the respondent’s Airline. She left Atlanta on 28.6.2005 when all papers including the passport, luggage, ticket and other documents were checked by the ground transportation staff and returned to the complainant along with boarding pass. The complainant at that time showed her passport to the concerned Airline’s staff at Atlanta in United States but thereafter as per the complainant, she inadvertently or for safety reasons put her passport in the luggage that was checked in and handed over to the Airline’s staff at Atlanta. When the plane landed at Paris, the police control staff asked her to show her passport. It is the case of the complainant that she requested the ground transportation staff to take her baggage for taking out passport which she had kept in the checked-in luggage because the same had already been examined by the authorities at Atlanta but now since it was required to be shown to the police control staff at Paris, she required to take it out from the checked in baggage. According to her, the ground transportation staff did not accede to her request. Finding  that the complainant had no passport, the police control staff in Paris did not permit her to board the connecting flight of Air France for Delhi and deported her back to Atlanta. According to the complainant, she requested the Air France staff to send her luggage back in the same plane in which she had to go back to Atlanta but the staff did not do so. During the air journey from Paris to Atlanta information was received that the said staff had checked and had found her passport in her luggage. Accordingly, the said staff also sent a telex message to Atlanta to send the complainant back to Paris by return flight to resume her onward journey to Delhi after taking her luggage from Paris. On reaching Atlanta, the complainant was made to stay by the respondent Airline in hotel. On 30.6.2005 when the complainant had reached Atlanta Airport, she was issued a boarding pass saying that she will not be charged for her flight from Atlanta to Paris but the authorities on board refused to take cognizance of the boarding pass and she was forced to make fresh payment for the journey being undertaken by her and due to this, she had no option but to pay US$ 1771 for air travel which amount was charged from her credit card. Alleging this as deficiency in service on the part of the Airline, the complainant filed a complaint with the District Forum seeking compensation from the OP Airline. On notice, the Airline contested the case and pleaded that during the period in question, the Airline’s staff made several efforts to trace the bag of the complainant and after being able to locate the passport, intimation was sent as a consequence of which, the complainant was allowed to travel back to India. Denying any negligence or deficiency in service on their part, the OP Airline pleaded for dismissal of the complaint.
4.         On appraisal of the pleadings and the evidence led by the parties, the District Forum held that the crew of flight AF 304 on 29.6.2005 did not  search for the passport properly and they only informed the complainant that the passport was not in her luggage but immediately thereafter during journey when the staff checked the luggage / bag of the complainant they found that the passport of the complainant was in her bag and they immediately informed the complainant but by that time, she was in the midst of the journey back to Atlanta. Treating this as negligence on the part of the crew of the Airline for which the complainant suffered mental agony as well as physical inconvenience and harassment, the District Forum accepted the complaint vide its order dated 30.4.2008 in terms of the following directions:-
“1. For causing mental agony, harassment and deficiency in service, OP will pay Rs. 3 lacs to the complainant which also includes the amount spent by the complainant for purchase of the fresh ticket.
2. OP will pay Rs.20,000/- towards the cost of litigation to the complainant as the case continues since November, 2005.”
5.         Aggrieved by the aforesaid order of the District Forum , the OP Airline went in appeal challenging the same before the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Delhi (‘State Commission’ for short) which reversed  and set aside the order of the District Forum and accepted the appeal vide its order dated 14.3.2011. It is against this that the present revision petition has been filed by the complainant.
6.         We have heard Mr. R.S. Badhran, Advocate for the petitioner and Mr. Amir Singh Pasrich, Advocate for the respondent. It is not in dispute that the complainant herself had kept her passport in her baggage which was checked in at the Atlanta Airport.  Whether it was done inadvertently or by mistake, it was clearly a mistake on her part for which she cannot blame the Airline’s staff. It is also to be noted that her problems arose when she was questioned by police control staff in Paris and asked to produce her passport. At this point of time, on her request, the Airline’s staff did make efforts to find out the checked in luggage with a view to get her passport. It is the contention of learned counsel for the respondent that in spite of the efforts made, the passport could not be found out and in the meanwhile since the police control staff in Paris did not permit the complainant to travel by the connecting flight AF- 148, she was sent back to Atlanta. The efforts to locate the baggage and her passport having continued when the same was found in her bag, immediately intimation was sent and she was brought back to Paris for resuming her journey to Delhi. Learned counsel for the respondent has submitted that the alleged inconveniences suffered by the petitioner were on account of her own mistake, which she cannot deny. He submitted that it was known to her that the checked in baggage would be delivered to her at Delhi. It was also contended that her deportation back to Atlanta from Paris was on account of instructions from the French police. In these circumstances, there was no deficiency on the part of the Airline’s staff and they only tried to assist her in tracing her baggage and taking the passport out and when succeeded in doing so, necessary information was sent immediately to facilitate her resuming her return journey to Delhi. The revision petition, therefore, is devoid of any merit and hence is liable for dismissal.
7.         Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of this case, we do not find any proof of negligence or deficiency on the part of the respondent Airline for which it could be held liable. The revision petition, therefore, is meritless and is dismissed both on the ground of limitation as well as on merits.
                                                        (SURESH CHANDRA)

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