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The Compensation Rules

Air passengers are entitled to compensation in a wide range of situations, including crashes, denied boarding, relocation of assets under aerodrome rules.

india Updated: May 21, 2003 16:40 IST

Air passengers are entitled to compensation in a wide range of situations, including crashes, denied boarding, relocation of assets under aerodrome rules.

Aerodrome related compensation and punishment

Government rules prohibit construction of buildings or planting of trees on any land within 20 km from the aerodrome. If any person deliberately fails to comply, he is punishable with imprisonment for term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh, or with both.

Anyone sustaining loss in this regard is to be compensated by airport authority as per any mutually consented agreement. In case of agreement, Govt appoints an arbitrator who is qualified for appointment as a Judge of a High Court.

Airport authority may, in any particular case, nominate a expert to assess the loss suffered by a person to be compensated. The claimant may also nominate an assessor for the purpose.

In case of disagreement over arbitrator's award, the aggrieved personmay, within 90 days from the date of such award, can appeal to High Court within whose jurisdiction the aerodrome is situated.

Liability of air carrier in case of death: Notwithstanding anything contained in the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 (13 of 1855) in force in any part of India, the rules contained in the notification issued pursuant to sub-section (1) of section 97 shall, in all cases to which those rules apply, determine the liability of a carrier in respect of the death of a passenger.

The liability shall be enforceable for the benefit of such of the members of the passengers’ family as sustained damage by reason of his death.

Explanation - In this sub-section, the expression "member of a family" means wife or husband, parent, step-parent, grand-parent, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, child, step-child and grand-child:

Insurance: As per the law, any carrier operating air transport services to, from or within India is bound to maintain adequate insurance covering its liability under the laid down rules and also for its liability towards compensation for damages that may be sustained by third parties for an amount to be specified by Government.

Absence of such insurance makes sufficient reason for denial or revocation of the permission to operate the air transport service or services in question, and if an air transport service is operated without adequate insurance coverage, the operator can be punished with upto three months imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh or both.

Advance Payments: Government may provide for advance payments without delay to a natural person or persons who are entitled to claim compensation in order to meet the immediate economic needs of such persons. Such advance payments shall not constitute a recognition of liability and will be offset against the final compensation that may be paid by the carrier to the claimant or claimants, as the case may be, on its own or under a Court’s order.

Compensation for grievances like denied boarding

Government has made rules for payment of suitable compensation by carriers to passengers who are denied boarding, in specified circumstances, on flights from India to any point outside India, or on flights within India, for which they have confirmed reservations, or for any other kinds of passenger grievances which in the opinion of Government assumes significant level of public dissatisfaction.

Any new compensation scheme notified by Government in the Official Gazette is binding on the carriers, and any contravention thereof is punishable with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.

Military Air Crashes: The IAF personnel killed in air crashes are entitled to a compensation ranging between Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh as per their service rules.

But their are no specific rules for the civilians who get injured or those whose properties are damaged in an accident involving a military jet. The issue came in focus after the Goa mid-air collision involving two transport jets. Three civilians on ground were killed and seven others sustained injuries in the crash which also took the lives of 19 IAF personnel.

First Published: May 21, 2003 16:40 IST