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