Landmark Decision For Consumer Rights: Spicejet Fined Rs 10 Lakh As They Offloaded A Passenger With Cerebral Palsy
On February 19, 2012, Jeeja Ghosh, an activist who is suffering from cerebral palsy, was about to board a Spicejet flight from Kolkata to Goa. She was travelling to attend a conference for differently abled people, conducted by NGO ADAPT (Able Disable All People Together).
She is a frequent flyer, and had travelled alone numerous times. But just before the flight was about to take-off, she received a shock of her life; a humiliation which she will never forget.
She was offloaded/de-boarded from the flight as the pilot thought that she was ‘unfit to fly’.
Jeeja, who is a 46 year old teacher at Kolkata’s Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy refused to buckle. She, along with NGO ADAPT, sued SpiceJet for this behaviour.
Yesterday, Supreme Court gave a decision which can be described as landmark for consumer rights movement, and for aviation sector in general.
Not only the apex court rapped Spicejet for their insensitive and totally uncalled for action, they were also fined Rs 10 lakh. As per the verdict, Spicejet violated Rule 133-A of Rules, 1937 and the CAR, 2008 guidelines.
In their verdict, the Court said, “Ghosh is a living example who has, notwithstanding her disability, achieved so much in life by her sheer determination to overcome her disability and become a responsible and valuable citizen of this country.”
Scolding Spicejet for their callous attitude, and complete disregard for differently abled patients, the court said, “A little care, a little sensitivity and a little positive attitude on the part of the officials of the airlines would not have resulted in the trauma, pain and suffering that Jeeja Ghosh had to undergo. This has resulted in violation of her human dignity and, thus, her fundamental right,”
In their 54 page verdict, Supreme Court said that companies such as Spicejet are responsible for stopping handicapped and differently abled people from joining mainstream society as such discrimination in public transport, jobs and other activities demoralize them.
Spicejet had argued that blood or froth was oozing out from Jeeja’s mouth, and hence they offloaded her. The Court blamed Spicejet for not recommending any medical help in this matter, and not contacting a doctor to understand the situation.
Jeeja had denied that she such blood or froth was oozing out from her mouth.
After the verdict, Jeeja said, “Money is important…not the amount but the punishment… it will set a precedent to others not to take such matter lightly.”
In 2012, Spicejet had issued an apology to Jeeja; and has assured the Court that fine of Rs 10 lakh would be paid in two months.
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