Air India appeals against Rs 20L relief

Reuters photo

Air India has appealed against a high court order that fined it Rs 20 lakh for failing to provide wheelchairs to a physically challenged doctor and her old-age mother who flew the airline from Bengaluru to London three years ago. 

Although a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur admitted Air India’s writ appeal on Tuesday, the court ordered the airline to deposit Rs 10 lakh until the matter is adjudicated. 

The fine was imposed by Justice B Veerappa on a petition filed by Dr S J Rajlakshmi and her 63-year-old mother Dr Sobha in November 2019. The women, who are from Bengaluru, had flown to London in July 2016. At the Heathrow airport, however, the airline staff failed to provide them with timely wheelchair assistance. The women had to wait for 16 hours and ended up missing a connecting flight to Scotland. 

During a preliminary hearing on the writ appeal, the airline’s counsel D V Pavamana argued that the women had booked the tickets through a travel agency and that there were no lapses on the part of Air India. 

The chief justice observed that it was an established fact that the women waited for 16 hours at the London airport. It is the duty of the airline to provide them with wheelchair assistance, he noted. 

The next hearing is scheduled for January 2, 2020. 

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