Logistics

High Court orders Rs 75 lakh compensation each for Mangalore crash victims

K. C. Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on July 20, 2011 Published on July 20, 2011

Kerala High Court order on compensation: A file photo of Air India Express crash site.

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday held that National Aviation Company of India Ltd (Air India) was bound to pay a minimum compensation of Rs 75 lakh each to the legal heirs of those killed in the Mangalore air crash.Mr Justice P.R. Ramachadra Menon made the ruling

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday held that National Aviation Company of India Ltd (Air India) was bound to pay a minimum compensation of Rs 75 lakh each to the legal heirs of those killed in the Mangalore air crash.

Mr Justice P.R. Ramachadra Menon made the ruling while declaring that Mr Abdul Salam and Mrs Ramla, parents of the 24-year-old B. Mohammed Rafi, who was killed in the air crash, were entitled to a minimum of one lakh SDR (Special Drawing Rights equal to Rs 75 lakh) as compensation based on the Montreal Convention.

As many as 158 persons were killed when an Air India Express plane from Dubai overshot the table-top runway at the Mangalore airport and plunged over a cliff into a wooded valley on May 22, 2010.

The court said that there could not be any different treatment between the poor and rich passengers over payment of compensation. The insurance premium, which formed part of the ticket fare, did not draw any distinction between rich and poor passengers. The policy was issued by the insurer to the carrier in a uniform manner and not after knowing whether the passenger was an Indian or a foreigner or a child or an earning person.

In fact, the insurer was aware of the legal position about the statutory duty of the carrier to satisfy the liability to the prescribed extent. It was after considering all the relevant aspects that the risk was ‘under written” and the policy was issued, assuring to meet any contingency covered under the statute.

The court pointed out that the Carriage by Air Act, 1972 being a special statute enacted with an intention to give effect to the Montreal Convention, did not draw any distinction over the compensation payable to the extent of one lakh SDR. And the same should be paid by the carrier in respect of death of any passenger in an accident on board. The air carrier could pay a higher compensation than the liability but could not avoid or limit the liability provided under the Montreal Convention.

The court observed that it was clear that the intention of the law makers was to bring about parity in the matter of payment of compensation to the passengers, irrespective of their class.

The petitioner sought a directive to settle the entire statutory claims made under the provision of the Carrier by Air Act 1972 from the company for the death of Rafi. They had sought Rs 1.5crore as compensation.

The company contended that the petitioners had made a higher demand though they had agreed to pay an amount of Rs 35 lakh, given the earning capacity of the deceased and the age.

Published on July 20, 2011
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