Mangalore air crash: SC notice to AI, Centre on compensation plea

According to the Montreal Convention, the petitioners are entitled to have one lakh SDR (Special Drawing Rights) compensation. SDRs are issued by the International Monetary fund and covert to nearly Rs75 lakh

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre and Air India on a plea seeking minimum Rs75 lakh compensation for each of the 158 victims of the May 2010 Mangalore air crash, reports PTI.

A bench headed by justice Dalveer Bhandari asked the Centre and the national carrier to file their response and fixed the matter for final hearing in April.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by Mohammed Rafiq Salam, who had lost his son in the crash.

Mr Salam’s son was working in Dubai and was coming home a month after his sister's wedding.

Mr Salam approached the apex court challenging the verdict of a division bench of Kerala High Court which had set aside a single judge order directing Air India to pay a minimum compensation of Rs75 lakh to the families of each of the victims.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner pleaded the court that the victims’ families should be compensated according to the Montreal Convention to which India is a signatory.

According to the Montreal Convention, the petitioners are entitled to have one lakh SDR (Special Drawing Rights) compensation. SDRs are issued by the International Monetary fund and covert to nearly Rs75 lakh.

One hundred and fifty-eight passengers and crew onboard the Air India aircraft from Dubai were killed when the plane caught fire after one of its wings hit a hillock at Kenjar in Mangalore on 22 May 2010.

In July 2011, a single judge bench of the Kerala High Court, while hearing Mr Salam’s plea, had held that the carrier was liable to pay no fault liability of one lakh SDR to the petitioner.

Noting that India was a signatory to the Montreal Convention, the single judge bench had said, “It is clear that the intention of lawmakers was to bring about parity in the matter of payment of compensation to the passengers, irrespective of class of travel, while providing for a ‘two tier system’ of compensation as adopted in Montreal Convention.”

“Since the extent of damage to any injury cannot be anything more than death”, no further proof is necessary to have sanctioned the minimum compensation of ‘Rs1 lakh SDR' in the case of death and this is the mandate of the statute, it had held.

The order was set aside by the division bench of the high court on an appeal by Air India. The division bench had held that the airline was liable to pay only actual damages proved by the claimants in case of death and the victims in case of injury.

The liability can be determined through negotiated settlement or by civil court of competitive jurisdiction, the bench had held.

The division bench, while setting aside the order of the single judge, had said that the national carrier as a matter of goodwill should offer a ‘reasonable minimum’, even if the actual damages payable in law is low, so that unnecessary litigation can be avoided. If no settlement is possible, actual damages can be determined by the civil court, the division bench of high court had said, while directing AI to pay compensation reasonably estimated by the attorneys irrespective of whether there is settlement or not.

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SEBI launches toll-free helpline in 14 languages

The service can be used for seeking guidance on issues ranging from status of companies and matters pertaining to other regulators that are not under SEBI’s purview, to lodging complaints and getting information on opening demat and client accounts

Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has launched a toll-free helpline for investors to provide guidance and assistance on various matters such as lodging complaints and transferring shares, reports PTI.

The number—1800227575—will be available to investors from all over India in 14 languages, SEBI said in a notification on Monday.

The service can be used for seeking guidance on issues ranging from status of companies and matters pertaining to other regulators that are not under SEBI’s purview, to lodging complaints and getting information on opening demat and client accounts.

Investors can also seek assistance on different procedures like transfer and transmission of shares and initial public offerings (IPOs).

Initially, the service will be available in English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Telugu, Urdu, Oriya and Punjabi.

The service in Kannada, Assamese and Kashmiri will commence shortly, SEBI said.

The toll free helpline service will be available on all working days from Monday to Friday between 9:30am and 5:30pm.

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