Volume 3 Issue 13 - July 01, 2005

Case filed against Indian Airlines for discrimination against disabled passengers

DNIS News Network - A lawsuit has been slapped against the state-run Indian Airlines for following a discriminatory policy toward passengers booking tickets under the category of disabled persons by not confirming their tickets and keeping them on the waiting list.

Arman Ali, Project Coordinator of Disability Law Unit-North-East, through his counsel S.S. Dey, has made this allegation in a writ petition before the Guwahati High Court.

Ali, 26, with locomotor disability, booked a ticket on Indian Airlines and was placed on the waiting list. For nearly a month he was on the waitlist no. 1, without getting a confirmed seat.

He has alleged that it was not a case of excess booking with Indian Airlines (as several persons who had booked tickets after him were given confirmed status), but because he booked his ticket under the category of disabled persons.

Indian Airlines issues M category tickets at concessional rates to visually impaired people and people with locomotor disability of 80 per cent and above. Ali claims that the practice of the company is to issue only waitlisted tickets to disabled persons, regardless of how well in advance they may have booked the tickets, and not confirm them until the time of departure so as to accommodate passengers paying the full fare.

As per the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, as also directions of the Supreme Court of India, Indian Airlines, as a state-owned carrier, is under legal obligation to pursue disabled-friendly policies.

Through his counsel S. S. Dey, Arman Ali filed a writ petition praying for non-discrimination by Indian Airlines in issuing M class tickets, and further direction to the airline for giving confirmed ticket on booking by a person with disability on his availing a ticket at concession rate solely on the criteria of availability of seats on aircraft and not on any other commercial consideration.

Justice A. Roy, in his order dated 24 June, has issued a show cause notice of motion to the Ministry of Civil Aviation as well as the Indian Airlines Ltd. asking as to why the prayers of the petitioner should not be granted and has fixed the matter for 18 July, for further consideration and necessary orders.

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