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Harbans Singh vs. Cathey Pacific Airways dated 2012-07-16


NEW DELHI                                              
 (From the order dated 27.01.2012 in Appeal No.1098/2006 of Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh)
Harbans Singh
S/o Sh. Hazara Singh
R/o Village Urapar
Tehsil & District Nawashahar
PUNJAB                                                              …      Petitioner
1. Cathey Pacific Airways
      IGI Airport, through its Managing Director
     Cathay Pacific Airways, 107-110 Kanchan Junga
     18, Bara Khamba Road,
     New Delhi – 1. 
2. Managing Director
    Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.
    International Airport, Hong Kong.                       …     Respondents
For the Petitioner                    :  Mr. Anwesh Madhukar,  Advocate
Pronounced on:__16th July, 2012
          This revision petition has been filed by the original complainant, Shri Harbans Singh against the order dated 27.1.2012 passed by the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh (in short ‘the State Commission’) by which the appeal of opposite parties 1 & 2, namely, Cathay Pacific Airways, New Delhi and the Managing Director, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong was allowed setting aside the order dated 19.5.2006 passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Jalandhar (in short ‘the District Forum’) by which the District Forum had allowed the complaint.
2.     The petitioner filed a complaint in question against the respondents alleging that he purchased return air tickets No. 9142369074-1 and 9142369074-6 on 10.10.2003 from respondent no. 2 to travel from Delhi to Hong Kong in flight no. 752L and further in flight no. CX872L from Hong Kong to San Francisco and back via Hong Kong and paid an amount of Rs.54,000/- for the purchase of the tickets.  The petitioner arrived at San Francisco on 15.10.2003.  During his stay at California, the petitioner received a message from India that his parents are in serious condition and he decided to cut short his stay and asked the Cathay Pacific Airways office at San Francisco to provide him return flight to India at the earliest.  According to the petitioner, the airways office at San Francisco confirmed the flight to Hong Kong and further to Delhi on 15.11.2003.  However, when the petitioner arrived at San Francisco airport, he was told that there was no seat available in the class for which he held the ticket from Hong Kong to Delhi in connecting flight no. CX753 and hence, the airline did not confirm his seat from Hong Kong to Delhi.  In the circumstances, it is alleged that the respondent airline compelled the petitioner to buy another executive class ticket from the airline in case he wanted to travel from Hong Kong to Delhi in connected flight no. CX753.  In view of this, the petitioner had to pay extra amount of US$ 609.30 being the amount of difference between fare of the ticket held by him and the executive class ticket by which he had to travel for want of seat in the class mentioned on the ticket.  Alleging deficiency on the part of the airlines, the petitioner approached the District Forum for direction for refund of US$ 609.30 or its converted value of Rs.27,509/- along with 18% p.a. from 17.11.2003 and compensation of Rs.50,000/-. 
3.     On being noticed, the opposite parties resisted the complaint and pleaded that the air ticket was sold to M/s. Saini Foreign Travel, Nawanshahr for Rs.43,055/- and the bill in question was also issued in their name.  The petitioner had confirmed ticket for return journey from San Francisco to Hong Kong for 4th December and from Hong Kong to Delhi for 6th December but since the petitioner wanted to travel and return to India on 15.11.2003/17.11.2003 and no seat was available in the flight in the class for which the ticket was obtained by the petitioner, he had to buy the executive class ticket and as such there was no deficiency in service or unfair trade practice on the part of the opposite party airline.  All other averments were denied as being wrong and incorrect and the complaint was sought to be dismissed with cost. 
4.     As stated above, on appraisal of the issues and the evidence adduced before it, the District Forum accepted the complaint and rejected the defence of the opposite party airline. This order of the District Forum was, however, reversed by the State Commission when the Opposite party airline challenged it through appeal which was accepted vide the impugned order.
5.     We have heard Mr. Anwesh Madhukar, learned counsel for the petitioner and perused the record placed before us.  It is not in dispute that the petitioner had a confirmed ticket for his return journey starting on 4th December/6th December from San Francisco and Hong Kong, respectively to Delhi in the ‘L’ class.  It is also not in dispute that the date of journey was advanced by the petitioner himself because of his personal problems on account of the illness of his father.  During the course of hearing, the learned Counsel for the petitioner admitted that while an indication about the likely availability of the seat for the second leg of the journey from Hong Kong to Delhi on 17.11.2003 was given, in fact, there was no prior confirmation of the same.  He, however, contended that when the opposite party airline was fully aware of the circumstances in which the petitioner had to pre-pone/advance his return journey, it was expected of the opposite party airline to accommodate him in the flight from Hong Kong to Delhi as per the request when the first stage of journey from San Francisco to Hong Kong was confirmed and hence the action on the part of opposite party airline to compel the petitioner to travel by the executive class for which he was made to pay an additional amount of US$ 609.30 was uncalled for and amounted to deficiency in service for which the District Forum had rightly held the opposite party airline responsible while accepting the complaint.  The State Commission, therefore, erred while allowing the appeal and, hence, the impugned order cannot be sustained in the eye of law.  It is contended by learned Counsel for the petitioner that the assumption of the State Commission that the petitioner could not ask for change of dates as a matter of right is wrong.  It was also submitted by learned counsel that there was nothing in the documents to indicate that the petitioner had been told about restrictions, if any, on his tickets at the time of buying the tickets.  The action of the opposite party airline, therefore, in asking the petitioner to pay additional amount was clearly deficiency in service on their part for which they were rightly held responsible by the District Forum.
6.     We have considered the submissions of learned counsel carefully.  The State Commission while admitting the appeal of the opposite party airline and reversing the order of the District Forum has recorded the following reasons in favour of the impugned order:-          
“16.     Before filing the present complaint, in the reply to the notice of respondent no.1, the appellants clearly mentioned and brought to the notice of respondent no.1 that the “L” class booking for the captioned flight was full at the time he contacted the appellants and only option was to purchase a full fare economy class ticket and apply refund for original ticket from the agent. The District Forum has observed that respondent no.1 was forced to travel in the executive class and to pay extra charges from Hong Kong to Delhi, but the District Forum lost sight of the fact that respondent no.1 was not traveling on 04.12.2003, but on his request, the return journey was pre-poned from 04.12.2003 to 17.11.2003 and he was to travel only in the available class/seat and he cannot claim the same as a matter of right, because he was traveling on his own request on the earlier dates due to some illness in the family and for that, the appellants cannot be blamed and respondent no.1 could seek refund from the agent for the unused ticket. The order of the District Forum is against the facts and evidence on record and is not sustainable.
17. In view of above discussion, the appeal is accepted and the impugned order dated 19.05.2006 under appeal passed by the District Forum is set aside. Consequently, the complaint filed by respondent no.1/complainant stands dismissed. No order as to costs”.
7.     We agree with the view taken by the State Commission.  In the given facts and circumstances, we do not find any merit in the revision petition which stands dismissed in limine with no order as to costs.
                                                                   ( J. M. MALIK, J)
                                                                PRESIDING MEMBER
                                                                   ( SURESH CHANDRA  )                                                                                             

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