The Supreme court, in the case of Jeeja Ghosh and anr.vs. Union of India and ors. decided on 12.05.2016 directed Spice Jet to pay Rs.10,00,000 as damages to Jeeja Ghosh, a person with Cerebral Palsy for deboarding her only due to her disability. The Court held that Spice Jet acted in an insensitive manner, and in the process violated Aircraft Rules, 1937 (“rules”) and Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR), 2008 which thus caused mental and physical suffering to Jeeja Ghosh. The court further held that unreasonable discrimination had occurred against Jeeja Ghosh.
Jeeja Ghosh was to fly from Kolkata to Goa on the morning of 19.02.2012 by SpiceJet for attending an International Conference, from the 19th to the 23rd of February, 2012.- After being seated on the flight, Ms. Jeeja Ghosh was approached by members of the flight crew who requested to see her boarding pass, and thereafter they proceeded to order her off the plane. Despite her tearful protestations and informing the crew members that she needed to reach Goa for the conference, they insisted that she de-board. After returning to the airport and arguing with airlines officials, she later discovered that the Captain had insisted that she be removed due to her disability. Being de-boarded she was unable to fly to Goa, and, thus, missed the conference all together.
Jeeja Ghosh filed a complaint with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment about the incident as well as to the Commissioner for persons with disabilities, West Bengal and the Chief Commissioner for persons with disabilities, Government of India (the authorities”). On receiving a show cause notice from the authorities Spice Jet agreed to refund for flight less Rs.1500 as cancellation fee. Being aggrieved, Jeeja Ghosh filed a Writ petition to the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court perused the relevant provisions of Rules and CAR, 2008, and concluded that Jeeja Ghosh was not given appropriate, fair and caring treatment which she required with due sensitivity, and the decision to de-board her, in the given circumstances, was uncalled for. More than that, the manner in which she was treated while de-boarding from the aircraft, depicted a total lack of sensitivity on the part of the officials of the airlines. The court further concluded that the decision to deboard Jeeja Ghosh was taken abruptly and lacked appropriate justification. It was not ascertained whether her condition was such which prevented her from flying. Thus de-boarding Jeeja Ghosh by Spice Jet was considered as clear violation of the Rules, 1937 and the CAR, 2008 guidelines.