In the matter of TGN Kumar v The Managing Director, Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) The traveller, a native of Kochi, claimed to be a frequent traveller who made use of CIAL frequently. In his complaint about a shortfall in service, he listed numerous instances where he felt that CIAL had provided him with inadequate support or insufficient staff. Among all of those, he described a situation in which he was completely soaked on the departure from CIAL on a rainy day because there was no rain shelter. He claimed that till he arrived in New Delhi, he had to travel in wet clothes. He further said that being bedridden for three days caused him to have physical agony from getting wet on board. He therefore moved to the consumer court for seeking relief.
Issue whether the passengers received a rain cover if it was raining
Analysis of Court order
The District Consumer Redressal Commission in Ernakulam, which was chaired by President DB Binu and included members V Ramachandran and Sreevidhia TN, noted that CIAL might have presented CCTV evidence to refute the claim that they had not offered any rain protection. The consumer court concluded that CIAL should be held accountable for subjecting the passenger to physical pain, emotional anguish, and torture by getting him wet in the rain.
According to the court, the failure to provide a step ladder without a canopy while entering the aircraft constitutes a service deficit and requires the opposite party to compensate the plaintiff. As compensation for the bodily discomfort, emotional anguish, etc. that the complainant experienced as a result of the opposite party’s omission, the opposing party shall pay the complainant Rs. 8000. The Commission’s order also made a few general observations regarding the disregard for the wellbeing of their clients displayed by for-profit businesses like CIAL.
After citing numerous precedents, the consumer court concluded that the complaint was upholdable since passenger facilitation is a service that is not provided for free and the performance of non-sovereign functions is not provided free of charge. The consumer court also took note of the fact that CIAL could have provided CCTV evidence to refute the claims that a rain canopy was missing, but they chose not to do so. The opposing party, who had access to all pertinent weather information and CCTV footage of the airport, had failed to offer evidence to refute the complainant’s assertions regarding the rain and the absence of a step ladder with a rain canopy for boarding the aircraft. Due to the lack of a cover on the step ladder used to board the flight to shield passengers from the rain, the consumer court ordered CIAL to compensate the passenger who was soaked 16,000 in damages.