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Airlines will pay for lost bags

SC upholds a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission order to Air France to pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Sonali Arora, report Bhadra Sinha and Sidhartha Roy.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2008 00:22 IST

From now on if you lose your luggage in transit, the airline is bound to compensate you, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

Lost baggage costs the global aviation industry $2.5 billion annually, says a report by air transport IT service provider SITA. On Friday, Air France was set back by Rs 1 lakh.

An SC bench headed by Justice BN Agrawal upheld a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission order to Air France to pay compensation to Jalandhar-based Sonali Arora. Arora lost her handbag at Heathrow in July, 1998, after being forced to get off by the airline. In a move bound to benefit those fighting similar cases in the country under the Consumer Protection Act, the court also declined Air France's plea that the order not be treated as a precedent.

Unlike the orders of District Consumer Forums, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and the National Commission, which can be challenged before superior judicial forums, this order will be the law of the land as it comes from the SC.

"At Heathrow and Frankfurt that handle 100 million passengers annually, missing baggage will be an issue," said an industry expert.

Arora's first complaint before the district commission in Jalandhar was rejected in September 1999 following which she moved the State Commission in Chandigarh that allowed her plea after five years. The National Commission too, ruled in her favour in March 2007.

Interestingly, last month, the apex court granted Rs 25,000 compensation to a woman whose uterus was unauthorisedly removed by a gynaecologist.