The national consumer redressal body has pulled up Kingfisher Airlines for adopting an unfair trade practice by misinforming passengers about the airline they were flying by.
JK Mittal bought a Delhi-Bhubaneswar return ticket on a March 8 Kingfisher flight over the internet from the airline's website. He paid Rs 4,800 each way.
When he reached the airport, he was told at the check-in counter that Kingfisher Airlines did not have a flight between Delhi and Bhubaneswar. Mittal was asked to take an Air Deccan flight instead.
The ticket for an Air Deccan flight cost Rs 2,500 each way while Mittal had paid Rs 4,800, he pointed out when he approached the National Consumer Redressal Commission.
Mittal, a lawyer, contended in his petition that the trade practice adopted by Kingfisher Airlines was unfair and should be prevented. He demanded Rs 50 million as punitive damages, to be given to the Consumer Welfare Fund set up by the commission.
Kingfisher Airlines lawyer MN Krishnamani told the commission that if Mittal had suffered a loss, he should have gone to the district forum. He also described the Rs 50 million claim as "totally exaggerated".
In his interim order, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission president MB Shah said he was not going into the exaggeration or otherwise of the claim at this stage.
But he ordered the airline "not to indulge in such unfair trade practice. A copy of this order be also sent to Director General of Civil Aviation for appropriate action," said the commission.
Krishnamani had also said that Consumer Voice, an NGO, ought not to have joined the case as a party at the request of Mittal.
Rejecting this contention of the airline, the commission said: "This contention appears to be without any substance, because consumer organisations are required to take up such causes for preventing unfair trade practices and under the Consumer Protection Act they are entitled to file such complaints".