16 yrs later, airline fined for cargo delay

New Delhi, Oct. 7 -- Sixteen years after Kuwait Airways failed to deliver a handicraft consignment of Rajasthan Art Emporium on time, the national consumer panel has ordered the international airline to pay over Rs. 25 lakh to the emporium.

Terming it "negligence", the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) directed Kuwait Airways to pay Rs. 20 lakh as compensation and an additional Rs. 5 lakh towards harassment, mental agony and cost of litigation.

".facts and circumstances clearly establish negligence, inaction and passivity on the part of the opposite party No 1 (Kuwait Airways)," an NCDRC bench, headed by Justice JM Malik said.

The dispute dates back to July 1996, when Rajasthan Art Emporium sent a consignment to US-based buyer Williams Sonoma Inc in Memphis. The emporium paid R24.48 lakh as air freight charges, as the goods were required to be delivered urgently. However, the goods failed to reach on time. The airline also failed to deliver the goods even on the revised schedule, despite giving assuring to the emporium.

Holding the international airline liable, the NCDRC said, ".the buyer (Williams Sonoma Inc) was annoyed and he stopped giving sufficient orders to the complainant (emporium)."

Contending that time was not the essence of the contract, the airline had argued that it had performed its duties under the contract of carriage. The airline had further defended its conduct by asserting that no specific instructions were given with regard to the time to deliver its destination.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.