Spicejet to pay Rs. 10 L for offloading disabled flyer 

wheelchair aero

Jeeja Ghosh, an eminent activist, suffers from cerebral palsy. She boarded a SpiceJet flight at Kolkata to attend a conference hosted by an NGO in Goa in 2012. Seated in the aircraft, she was shocked when the crew asked her to deboard.  She came to know later that the captain had ordered her to be removed from the aircraft due to her disability.

 This was despite the fact that she did not require any assistive devices. No doctor was summoned to examine her and ascertain whether her condition was such that prevented her from flying. The callous treatment by the airline traumatised her. The airline argued that Jeeja had not declared her visible disability at the time of booking the tickets or check-in. It said the crew took the step in the interest of the safety of Jeeja and other passengers.

 The verdict

 The Supreme Court directed SpiceJet to pay Rs. 10 lakh as damages to Jeeja, saying the manner in which she was deboarded depicted “total lack of sensitivity”. It observed that she was not given “appropriate, fair and caring treatment” and the decision to deboard her was “uncalled for”. The SpiceJet crew clearly violated Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), 2008 subjecting Jeeja to physical and mental suffering and discrimination.

Point of law

 If an airline does not give fair and caring treatment to the disabled it is liable to pay damages for mental agony and harassment.

Insurer pulled up for denying claim on false grounds

Settled in court 2

Chandrakant Patel had coverage under two policies with United India Insurance – Individual Health Insurance Policy-2010 for Rs. 2 lakh and Super Top Up Medicare Policy for Rs. 5 lakh. When he was admitted in Apollo Hospital for implanting stent, the total expenses came to Rs. 2,77,364. The insurance company settled the claim for Rs. 2 lakh under Individual Health Insurance Policy–2010 by paying him Rs. 1.4 lakh as per the policy terms that only 70% of the sum insured was payable in major surgeries.  Patel had presented the claim for the remaining amount of Rs. 77,364 under Super Top Up to the third party administrator (TPA) Heritage Health. The TPA repudiated the claim on the grounds that Patel had not disclosed that he had had a mitral valve replaced 22 years ago.

At the time of taking the Super Top Up policy, the proposal form required him to mention particulars of pre-existing diseases for the previous four years only. Aggrieved, Patel complained to the Ombudsman at Ahmedabad. The Ombudsman asked the opposite party to pay Rs. 72,364. Since this was not satisfactory to Patel, he approached CERS and a complaint was filed in the Consumer Forum.

The verdict

 The Forum allowed the complaint. United Insurance was directed to pay Patel Rs. 77,364 with 9% interest. In addition, the insurer had to pay Rs. 3,000 as compensation for mental agony.

Point of law

If an insurer adopts an unfair trade practice and denies a claim on false grounds it is liable to be pulled up and penalized.

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