Kochi: A consumer court here imposed a fine of Rs 7.5 lakh on Qatar Airways in a five year old complaint filed by a judge of Kerala High Court, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas against the airline for offloading him and his friends from the aircraft despite having valid tickets.
The consumer court directed an amount of Rs 7 lakh to the complainant as compensation for the mental agony, hardship and physical stress afforded by the complainant due to deficiency of service and unfair trade practice by the opposite parties besides Rs 50,000 towards the cost of proceeding.
The 54-year-old judge, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas is the son of former Supreme Court Judge K.T. Thomas and his case was filed before the Consumer Commission here in 2018, two years before he was sworn in as a judge.
His case was against Qatar Airways when he along with his friends booked tickets many months before their actual date of travel. But when they reached Qatar, from here, enroute to Scotland, they were offloaded as the flight to Edinburgh was overbooked. They were given hotel accommodation and gave the group a voucher for US$ 250 and put them on a flight the next day to Edinburgh.
After returning home, Thomas sent a legal notice to Qatar Airways claiming compensation but he did not receive any reply and later approached the Ernakulam district commission seeking compensation of Rs 10 lakhs.
Finally the Consumer Court allowed Justice Thomas application on December 30, 2022. The Consumer Court ruled that denying permission to passengers holding valid boarding passes from boarding the aircraft amounts to unfair trade practice and deficiency in service. The court imposed a total fine of Rs 7.5 lakh on the airline to be paid within 30 days.