Air India crash victims’ relatives welcome verdict

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Air India crash victims’ relatives welcome verdict

Relatives of last year’s Mangalore Air India Express crash victims welcomed the Kerala High Court’s judgement on Wednesday.

By Shafaat Ahmed (shafaat@khaleejtimes.com)

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Published: Thu 21 Jul 2011, 8:40 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:58 AM

The ordered the low budget carrier’s parent firm, National Aviation Company, to pay a minimum of Rs7.5 million (Dh619,750) in compensation for each life lost in the accident.

Hailing Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon’s ruling allowing the petition filed by Abdul Salam and Ramla, parents of one of the victims, Rafique Eroth, President of Malayali Pravasi Coordination Council (MPCC), a Kerala community organisation that represents many families of the victims, said: “It is a welcome verdict and relief to all the families of the victims. We have been fighting for their rights since the accident and we have been treated very badly by Air India. This gives a shot in the arm for those afflicted and now they look for options for further claims.”

He added that the organisation along with the families it represents will have a close look at the judgement, following which they will plan further course of action.

When asked whether he thought Air India would appeal against the verdict, he said: “I don’t think so. The court has given a very balanced judgement and I think they should be happy to pay half of what was claimed by the victims’ families.” Abdul Salam and Ramla had claimed Rs15 million as compensation for the loss of their son in the air crash.

However, the court observed that the carrier was liable to pay no fault liability of 100,000 SDR (Special Drawing Rights equal to Rs7.5 million) to the petitioner.

It also observed that this is apart from whatever other compensation the petitioners are entitled to.

“The honourable Kerala High Court has vindicated our stand that Montreal Convention, which was ratified by the Indian Parliament, is applicable. This will end intimidation and harassment by Air India’s lawyer. We welcome Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon’s ruling directing Air India to pay two-tier compensation. Any amount of money cannot compensate loss of life, but this will come as a big relief for the families whose sole bread earner was lost,” said Syed Maqbool who lost a brother-in-law, two nieces and a nephew in the tragic crash.

He alleged that Air India was handling the cases in a high-handed manner and subjected the victims’ families to a lot of harassment.“Their (Air India’s) policies are discriminatory. They offered to pay only Rs2.5 million as compensation for minor victims apart from the initial payout of Rs1 million. This is against the law so we refused to accept. We were eagerly waiting for the judgement. Now that it is out, we will take legal council on further course of action,” Maqbool added as he recalled the ordeal of his family.

The Montreal Convention requires international airlines to pay two-tier compensation for any loss of life in an air crash and families are now deciding on the recourse to claim their rightful baggage loss compensation.

Most of the families who lived in Dubai are already in India anticipating the judgement. “We expected the positive judgement, so we came to India to follow up with our case. We now sincerely hope Air India accepts the ruling,” said a father who lost his daughter and two grandchildren in the crash, speaking to Khaleej Times from his home town in south India.

He wished to remain anonymous as he choked back tears referring to his loss: “No amount of money can recompense what we have lost. Yet the airline administrators are playing with our emotions in the most immoral manner.”

As many as 158 people including the crew perished in the tragic accident in Mangalore on May 22, 2010, when the Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot the runway and crashed into flames.

Air India Crash 2010



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