Oral Order: (B.N. Rao Nalla, President)
1) This is an appeal filed under Section 15 of the Consumer Protection Act by the 1st opposite party praying this Commission to set aside the impugned order dated 30.12.2013 made in CC 824 of 2011 on the file of the DISTRICT FORUM III, Hyderabad.
2) For the sake of convenience, the parties are described as arrayed in the complaint before the District Forum.
3) The case of the complainant, in brief, is that he booked two tickets for himself and his family member on 23/12/2010 through 2nd opposite party to travel from Hyderabad to Chennai by Flight No.6E 311 on 03/02/2011 operated by Indigo Airlines scheduled to depart at 09:40 a.m. to attend an important family ceremony at Madurai. On 03/02/2011 when he arrived at the Airport to check in for Flight No.6E 311, he was informed that the Flight was cancelled and that there were no alternative arrangements made for the passengers. He had to make alternate arrangement to travel by an afternoon Flight to Chennai by Jet Airways departing at 03:20 p.m. which caused additional expenditure of Rs.22,000/- for fresh bookings. Due to paucity of time they could not use the connection to Madurai and hence had to miss the family function. Although tickets were booked 40 days ahead of the journey the Opposite Parties failed to inform the cancellation in time or to make alternative arrangements. Despite legal notices on 16/03/2011 and on 08/04/2011 the opposite parties did not choose to reply and it amounts to deficiency in service. Hence the complaint to direct the Opposite Parties to pay an amount of Rs.12,300/- addl. burden incurred by the complainant, to pay compensation of Rs Rs.50,000/- and costs.
4) The first opposite party opposed the above complaint by way of written version, contending that the District Forum has no jurisdiction to entertain the dispute as per the contract of carriage; all disputes are subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts at Delhi only. It is admitted that the Complainants were booked to travel on Flight No.6E 311 from Hyderabad to Chennai on 03/02/2011 and a printed itinerary was issued to the Complainant’s booking agent and the Complainant provided 9848046406 as his telephone number at the time of booking. Subsequently Flight No.6E 311 and 6E 302 were cancelled from 31/01/2011 to 22/02/2011 due to schedule change. Consequently this Opposite Party made several attempts to inform the Complainant about the change in schedule as early as on 24/01/2011 but the given telephone number was unreachable. Subsequently another attempt was made on 01/02/2011 and again on 02/02/2011 but there was no response from the Complainant’s telephone number. Thereafter the booking of the Complainant was cancelled on 03/02/2011 and the sum of Rs.5098/- charged from the Complainant for such booking was reimbursed as a Credit Note. As per the conditions of carriage, customers who have not provided valid contact information at the time of booking made may not be entitled for any compensation. Hence there is no deficiency in service on their part and hence prayed to dismiss the complaint.
5). The Opposite Party No.2 though served with notice remained absent and did not choose to contest the matter.
6) During the course of enquiry before the District Forum, in order to prove his case, the 1st opposite party filed his evidence affidavit and got marked Ex.A1 to A-7 and the first opposite party filed evidence affidavit and got marked Ex. B1 and B2. The complainant and the first opposite party filed their respective written arguments. Heard both sides.
1. The District Forum, after considering the material available on record, held and directed the opposite parties jointly and severally to pay a sum of Rs.12,300/- being the additional amount incurred towards purchasing a ticket in the last minute. To pay a sum of Rs.10,000/- towards compensation for mental agony and inconvenience caused to the Complainant and Rs.2,000/- towards costs within 30 days.
8) Aggrieved by the said order, the 1st opposite party preferred this appeal before this Commission.
9) Both sides have advanced their arguments reiterating the contents in the appeal grounds, rebuttal thereof along with written arguments. Heard both sides.
10) The points that arise for consideration are,
(i) Whether the impugned order as passed by the District Forum suffers from any error or irregularity or whether it is liable to be set aside, modified or interfered with, in any manner?
(ii) To what relief ?
11) Point No. 1 :
There is no dispute that the first respondent/complainant booked Flight tickets by flight bearing No. 6E 311 operated by Indigo Airlines to travel on 03/02/2011 from Hyderabad to Chennai at 09:40 a.m. and arriving at Chennai at 10:40 a.m. There is also no dispute that the said Flight was cancelled. The contention of the appellant/1st opposite party is that they have attempted to contact the first respondent/complainant on 24/01/2011 and again on 01/02/2011 and 02/02/2011 with regard to the change in the re-schedule of the said flight.
12) The District Forum came to the conclusion that the appellant/1st opposite party Aviation company failed to produce that they have sent SMS to the first respondent/complainant to his mobile number with regard to cancellation of the said flight and observed that he paid d a sum of Rs.11,281/- for one passenger (Ex.A1) and Rs.11,594/- for other (Ex.A7), total sum of Rs.22,878/- and undeniably the 1st respondent/complainant was made to purchase a fresh ticket for his travel to Madurai incurring a sum of Rs.22,878/-. Since the Opposite Parties have passed a Credit Note amounting to sum of Rs.10,354/- the additional financial burden incurred by the first respondent/complainant is to the tune of Rs.12,500/-. The Complainant ought to be compensated for this financial loss which he had to incur for no fault of his along with compensation of Rs.10,000/- while answering that the District Forum has territorial jurisdiction since the appellant/1st opposite party has a branch office at Hyderabad and purchased the tickets at Hyderabad and hence part of cause of action has arisen at Hyderabad.
13) The argument of the counsel for the appellant Aviation company that the District Forum ought to have seen that the 1st respondent/complainant did not file any evidence to substantiate that the first respondent/appellant had travelled along with him on the said date on 0302.2011 and incurred an additional expenditure of Rs.12,300/- cannot be accepted on the pretext of Ex.A2 Travel itinerary, which is may be a computer generated paper but contained all the requisite information to be believed, and Ex.A-7 invoice.
14) As per 12.2 of Ex. B1, terms and conditions, if an IndiGo flight is cancelled, rescheduled or delayed for more than two/three hours ( depending on the length of the journey), a customer shall have to right to choose a refund or a credit for future travel on IndiGo, or re-booking onto an alternative indigo flight at no additional cost subject to availability. But there is no evidence on record to show that the appellant Aviation Company had intimated to the first respondent/complainant that they have intimated about the cancellation of the flight in advance to choose an alternative IndiGo flight or they made an alternative arrangement to them which amounts to deficiency in service. Though, the entire amount have been refunded by the appellant Aviation company to the first respondent/complainant, there is no proof on record that it was refunded before the journey date to make an alternate arrangement. They were forced to incur an additional amount because of the lack of previous intimation about the cancellation of the flight and
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hence the appellant Aviation company is liable to compensate the same. Anybody can expect the mental agony undergone by a passenger, when he intended to travel to attend an important occasion and hearing of cancellation of flight at the nick of the moment which is due to previous sufficient correct information. 15) After considering the foregoing facts and circumstances and also having regard to the contentions raised on both sides, this Commission is of the view that there is no infirmity or irregularity in the impugned order. There are no merits in the appeal and hence it is liable to be dismissed. 16) Point No. 2 : In the result, the appeal is dismissed confirming the impugned order dated 30.12.2013 in CC 824 of 2011 passed by the District Forum III, Hyderabad. There shall be no order as to costs. Time for compliance four weeks.