National carrier Air India has been pulled up by a consumer forum here for terming a garment exporter whose baggage was lost as a fraudulent claimant, and asked to pay Rs 12.24 lakh as compensation.
The New Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum said it was "shocking and improper" on the part of AI to call the businessman fraudulent merely because he had filed two other complaints in the past against another airline for losing his baggage.
"It is entirely shocking and improper on the part of the opposite party (Air India) to describe him as a fraudulent claimant for monetary gain on the basis of two complaints (for baggage loss) pending in court where he has to establish all facts to claim compensation. The opposite party should not indulge in such reckless imputation of criminal nature...
"Opposite party has not disputed the loss of four baggage weighing 100 kg, the contents of which are not denied by any evidence of Air India...We award Rs three lakh for deficiency in service by loss of goods, for harassment and legal expenses in last five years. Air India is (also) directed to make the payment of value of lost garments, amounting to Rs 9,24,000," the bench presided by C K Chaturvedi said.
The forum's order came on the plea of Delhi-resident Shakeb Khan Altamash who had said his four bags containing ladies garments were missing when he arrived at Delhi from Bangkok in an AI flight on September, 2007.
Altamash had approached the airline and had, thereafter, repeatedly followed up on his complaint but Air India did not compensate him for the loss, he had said.
Air India, while admitting that the businessman's baggage was lost, contended that he was a habitual fraudulent claimant who has filed fake claims of lost baggage against various airlines to extract unlawful gain.
The forum, however, rejected the contention saying "it is without any evidence" and "is based on conjectures".