SpiceJet told to pay disabled flyer $15,000

New Delhi, May 12

India’s top court today ordered budget airline SpiceJet to pay INR one million ($15,000) to an activist with cerebral palsy who was offloaded from one of its flights four years ago.

The Supreme Court said Jeeja Ghosh endured mental and physical suffering after she was deboarded from the flight on her way to the western state of Goa to attend a conference in February 2012.

In a petition to the court, Ghosh, 46, said she was offloaded as the pilot felt she was not fit to fly on her own, despite her pleas that she had travelled without an escort in the past. Although SpiceJet later apologised, Ghosh approached the court seeking compensation, accusing the airline of discrimination and saying her fundamental rights had been violated.

In passing the judgement today, the Supreme Court said Ghosh ‘feels haunted with that scene when she was pulled out of the plane, like a criminal. She continues to have nightmares’.

Ghosh said she hoped the judgement would set a precedent and send a message to carriers.

“Compensation amount is not important, setting an example is more important,” she told the NDTV television network.