New Delhi: An activist with cerebral palsy, who was offloaded from a plane four years ago, will receive Rs 10 lakh as compensation from the airline, Spicejet, the Supreme Court ruled today.
- Activist Jeeja Ghosh was offloaded from Spicejet plane to Goa
- This came after the pilot had said she was not fit to fly
- Supreme Court said a little sensitiviy would have saved her the trauma
The court, in its order, movingly quoted the famed Hellen Keller and said, "Jeeja Ghosh herself is a living example who has, notwithstanding her disability, achieved so much in life by her sheer determination to overcome her disability and become a responsible and valuable citizen of this country. A little care, a little sensitivity and a little positive attitude on the part of the officials of the airlines would not have resulted in the trauma, pain and suffering that Jeeja Ghosh had to undergo."
The top court described the attitude of the Spicejet staff "callous" and said they had had violated Ms Ghosh's fundamental rights when they offloaded her from their Kolkata to Goa flight on 19 February 2012.
The 46-year-old teacher at Kolkata's Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy was on her way to attend a conference on the rights of people with disability.
Calling the order a landmark in that battle, Ms Ghosh said, "Money is important...not the amount but the punishment... it will set a precedent to others not to take such matter lightly."
A frequent flier who has travelled alone in the country and abroad, Ms Ghosh was offloaded after the pilot declared that she was not fit to fly.
Hailing the court's judgment, Jaya Chatterjee -- a friend of Ms Ghosh -- said, "When this happened, I was so ashamed. I used to work in an airline myself."
The airline had in 2012 issued a statement apologising for the inconvenience caused to Ms Ghosh. SpiceJet has been ordered to pay the activist within two months.
Differently-abled people have often been at the receiving end of insensitive treatment from airlines.
In January, another activist, Anita Ghai, had alleged that she had to crawl to the passenger coach after deboarding an Air India plane in Delhi. The national carrier had failed to arrange for a wheel chair for her due to "security" reasons, said Ms Ghai, who is also a professor at the Delhi University.