Supreme Court or­ders SpiceJet to pay Rs 10 lakh to dis­abled flyer

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The Supreme Court has di­rected bud­get air­line SpiceJet to pay Rs 10 lakh as dam­ages to a flyer with cere­bral palsy who was forcibly off­loaded in 2012, say­ing the man­ner in which she was de-boarded de­picts “to­tal lack of sen­si­tiv­ity”.

The apex court noted that the dis­abled flier Jeeja Ghosh was not given “ap­pro­pri­ate, fair and car­ing treat­ment” and the de­ci­sion to de-board her was “un­called for”.

“On our find­ing that SpiceJet acted in a cal­lous man­ner, and in the process vi­o­lated Rule 1937 and Civil Avi­a­tion Re­quire­ments (CAR), 2008, guide­lines re­sult­ing in men­tal and phys­i­cal suf­fer­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by Ghosh and also un­rea­son­able dis­crim­i­na­tion against her, we award a sum of Rs 1,000,000 as dam­ages to be payable to her,” a bench com­pris­ing jus­tices AK Sikri and RK Agrawal said.

Ghosh was off­loaded from a SpiceJet flight on 19 Fe­bru­ary 2012 from Kolkata. She was go­ing to at­tend a con­fer­ence in Goa hosted by NGO ADAPT (Able Dis­able All Peo­ple To­gether), the sec­ond pe­ti­tioner in the case. A fre­quent flier who has been trav­el­ling alone ex­ten­sively, Jeeja was or­dered to de-board as the pi­lot deemed her un­fit for flight, cit­ing her as a “dan­ger for other pas­sen­gers.”

The apex court said the de­ci­sion to off­load Ghosh was taken by the air­lines with­out any med­i­cal ad­vice or con­sid­er­a­tion and her con­di­tion was not such that re­quired any as­sis­tive de­vices or aids.

“Even if we as­sume that there was some blood or froth that was no­ticed to be ooz­ing out from the sides of her mouth when she was seated in the air­craft (though ve­he­mently de­nied by her), no­body even cared to in­ter­act with her and asked her the rea­son for the same. No doc­tor was sum­moned to ex­am­ine her con­di­tion. Abruptly and with­out any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, a de­ci­sion was taken to de-board her with­out as­cer­tain­ing as to whether her con­di­tion was such which pre­vented her from fly­ing,” the bench said.

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