The Delhi High Court has directed a chartered aircraft firm and an insurance company to pay Rs 50 lakh compensation to the families of each of the two doctors and a nurse who were killed in a plane crash while on a medical emergency flight in 2011.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait asked Delhi-based Air Charter Services Pvt Ltd to pay Rs 7.5 lakh as per statutory liability under the Carriage by Air Act, 1972, and the insurance firm to pay Rs 42.5 lakh along with interest to the three families each within four weeks.
Ten persons including all seven on board a small civil chartered aircraft were killed when the medical ambulance flight to Delhi from Patna had crashed into a densely-populated residential area in bad weather near Faridabad in May 2011.
The airplane was ferrying a critically-ill patient Rahul Raj, a young Patna-based businessman, to be taken to Apollo Hospital in Delhi for further medical management. The patient was undergoing treatment in a Patna hospital and the airplane was arranged by Apollo Hospital.
The seven persons onboard were two doctors, two pilots, a nurse, a patient and an attendant. The air ambulance named 'Pilatus' along with the patient, his cousin and others took off from Patna at 8:30 PM on May 25, 2011.
The aircraft crashed in Jawaharnagar locality near the IAF station at around 10:35 PM, shortly before landing at IGI airport in Delhi. It had caught fire as soon as it crashed on two houses sending up plumes of smoke.
The present three petitions were filed by the families of doctors Rajesh Jain and Sayad Arshad Abbas and nurse Cyril P Joy. They were working for Apollo Hospital in New Delhi.
The families of the pilots, who lost their lives in the incident, were granted Rs 50 lakh compensation earlier in 2016 with the court coming to the conclusion that crew members also come in the category of passengers.
While deciding the present three petition, Justice Kait said, "Accordingly, I am of the view that each passenger is entitled compensation for an amount of Rs 50 lakh."
The counsel for the aircraft company had claimed that the petitions were not maintainable and liable to be dismissed for the reason that as per the Carriage by Air Act 1972, the petitioners were entitled to a fixed and specified compensation of Rs 7.5 lakh and the firm had obtained coverage of Rs 50 lakh from the insurance company.
The insurance company had contended that the crew were not covered under the insurance policy. It had accepted the fact that the compensation had been paid to the aircraft firm for the damage to the plane.