Bahrain's national carrier Gulf Air has been directed to pay compensation of 20 lakh to an Indian passenger by a District Consumer Forum here after he was denied the boarding pass at the airport here to travel to Qatar in 2008 despite having valid documents and lost his job.
Terming it as a case for "punitive" compensation, New Delhi Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum directed the Directors of the Airline to compensate for the harassment caused to Hem Kumar who lost his job in Doha as he was not allowed to board the flight on the ground that his visa did not permit him to re-enter the country.
"Opposite Party (Gulf Air), by its imperfect handling of the passengers with valid documents, have caused loss of his job directly and caused unparallel agony and harassment to complainant," the forum said, while giving Kumar the maximum monetary relief of Rs 20 lakh that a district forum can award.
"In our view their casual attitude deserves condemnation and it is a case for punitive compensation... In view of the monetary limit of Rs 20 lakh which this forum can award as compensation, we award it to Kumar and direct the airline to pay the same," a bench presided by Justice C K Chaturvedi said.
While awarding the amount of compensation, the forum noted that such an amount cannot adequately compensate the loss of job, as it was just 8-10 months of his salary in Doha where he was employed.
Kumar, who had come to India on August 28, 2008, alleged that on his date of return to Doha on October 17, 2008, the officials of the airlines denied him the boarding pass on the ground that there was no endorsement for re-entry journey on the visa which was printed in Arabic language.
Kumar told the forum that his visa clearly mentioned that he could travel till October 20, 2008 but the officials could not understand the language so he got the English version for their convenience.
He said that the officials apologised and asked him to take a flight the next day but the same incident was repeated and he was turned down again which led to him losing his job in Doha.
Aggrieved by the conduct of the airline officials because of which he could not travel and lost his job, he approached the State Commission with a complaint against the airline that was transferred to the district forum.
The forum, while passing orders in Kumar's favour, said, "OP (Gulf Air) has failed to explain how its own official failed to read the Arabic language on visa and why he was forced to bring English version.
"The officials of Gulf Airlines should be equipped with Arabic language or have official translators at Airport. Despite having seen the English version, Kumar was not allowed on 17th and 18th again," the forum said while rejecting the contention of the Gulf Air blaming Kumar for not keeping all documents ready.