Kathmandu, July 31
Family members of seven Nepali passengers who were killed in the US-Bangla aircraft crash on March 12 last year filed a case against the US-Bangla Airlines at Kathmandu District Court today against the firm’s failure to compensate them as per the Montreal Convention 1999 and other globally-accepted aviation accords.
Families of the seven deceased passengers, who were all pursuing MBBS in Bangladesh, filed the joint lawsuit demanding total compensation worth Rs 2.10 billion after the Bangladeshi airline company failed to release the applicable compensatory amount as per existing laws even as 16 months have passed since the fatal incident.
The March 12 flight from Dhaka crash-landed at Kathmandu airport and skidded off the runway before bursting into flames, killing 51 people in the deadliest aviation accident in the Himalayan nation in decades. Twenty-eight of the deceased were from Bangladesh, 22 from Nepal and one from China.
Families of late Ashna Shakya, Anjila Shrestha, Meeli Maharjan, Neega Maharjan, Princy Dhami, Sanjaya Maharjan and Shreya Jha have filed a joint lawsuit against the company. They have demanded Rs 2 billion compensation based on Montreal Convention 1999, Warsaw Convention 1929 and Hague Protocol 1955, said advocate Amrit Kharel.
He added, “The case has been filed analysing both economic and non-economic damages suffered by family members due to the incident.”
However, officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said families of the deceased were unlikely to get compensation based on Montreal Convention 1999, as it was implemented in Nepal only after the incident took place. Moreover, based on the law, passengers are supposed to get compensation as per the law implemented in the representative country of the particular airline.
“Since the Bangladeshi company has to provide the compensation to the US-Bangla victims, signing of the Montreal Convention by Nepal does not have much relevance in this case,” said a high-level CAAN official, seeking anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter. This means that since US-Bangla Airlines is a Bangladeshi company, victims are likely to receive compensation as per the law followed by Bangladesh, that is, the Warsaw Convention. “However, the actual compensation amount that the kin of victims get will depend on the court’s verdict.”
Under the Montreal Convention, passengers of international flights get insurance cover of up to 113,100 Special Drawing Rights (SDR), in case of death or injury.
Meanwhile the Warsaw Convention covers insurance up to 100,000 SDR per victim in case of death. The valuation of one SDR is $1 today.
Advocate Kharel said the joint lawsuit was filed today under the clause of Montreal Convention, as Nepal implemented it on December 15. According to the lawsuit, families of Ashna Shakya, Anjila Shrestha, Meeli Maharjan and Princy Dhami have claimed a total of Rs 300 million each as compensation, while families of Neega Maharjan, Sanjaya Maharjan and Shreya Jha have claimed Rs 290 million each as compensation.
A version of this article appears in print on August 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.