Whether foreign airliner amenable to the jurisdiction of national Commission – Held Yes by Supreme Court
Non delivery o f consignment by foreign airliner – Complaint entertained by National Commission and compensation granted – Whether foreign airliner amenable to the jurisdiction of national Commission – Held,Yes by Supreme Court
The appellant is an International Cargo carrier, with its principal place of business at Beirut, Lebanon. Respondent No.1 is a garment exporter and respondent No.2 is an accredited International Air Transport Association agent. The agent made out three airway bills for shipping of garments to Spain on behalf of the consignor through the appellant-carrier .In the consignee column, the consignment was addressed as: The airway bills from Bombay to Amsterdam were dated 25- 08-1992 and the consignment through the appellant-carrier reached Amsterdam on 30-08-1992. From Amsterdam, the consignments were sent to Madrid by road on the following day, and they reached Madrid on 03-09-1992 and were cleared by the Customs Authorities. The appellant-carrier delivered the consignment to M/s Liwe Espanola, as according to them, that was the only recognizable address available from the documents furnished by the consignor.
After nine months from the date of shipment, the agent made enquiry regarding two of the three airway bills. Since there was no response, the agent made further enquiry again after four months. In response to the query, the appellant-carrier informed the consigner that on finding the full name and complete postal address of the consignee as M/s Liwe Espanola, the appellantcarrier has delivered the goods to it. It was at this stage, the consignor claimed that the consignee of the said consignment was Barclays Bank, Madrid, which had only one branch in Madrid and since the appellant carrier had wrongly delivered the consignment to the address mentioned in the Block column instead of routing it through Barclays Bank and, therefore, there is deficiency of service. Accordingly, the consignor instituted a complaint under Section 12 of the CP Act before the National Commission, inter alia, claiming compensation for the alleged deficiency of service by the appellant-carrier and the agent for not delivering the said consignment to the consignee. The National Commission, after considering the entire evidence on record, has come to the conclusion that the services rendered by the appellant-carrier was deficient and thereby, it was liable to pay compensation equivalent to US $71,615.75 with 5% interest from the date of the Complaint till its realization, and imposed costs of Rs.1 lakh. It is the correctness or otherwise of this order, which is called in question in this appeal.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of appellant and held that National Commission has jurisdiction to decide the dispute between the parties and it is a Court and that there was deficiency in service by the appellant-carrier.
Reason:- In our view, the protection provided under the CP Act to consumers is in addition to the remedies available under any other Statute. It does not extinguish the remedies under another Statute but provides an additional or alternative remedy. In the instant case, at the relevant point of time, the value of the subject matter was more than Rs.20 lakhs, by which the National Commission is conferred jurisdiction for any cause of action that arises under the Act. In the present case, as we have already noticed that the consignor had furnished all the relevant information in the airway bill which would satisfy the requirements of both Rule 6 and 16 of the rules and, therefore, the consignor cannot be accused of not furnishing the correct particulars and information in the airway bill which is handed over to the appellant-carrier with the cargo. In our view, the appellant carrier cannot absolve its responsibilities by contending that it would be practically impossible to verify the correctness of all the airway bills which are furnished with the cargo. The appellant's contention that the name and address of the consignee was inadequate is difficult to accept. There is evidence on record to show that documents supporting the letter of credit were sent by the consignors using the selfsame name and address and there was no difficulty in the same being delivered to the consignee bank. We are in total agreement with the conclusion reached by the National Commission. Therefore, we do not see any merit in the contention canvassed by the learned counsel for the appellant-carrier. We conclude that the National Commission has jurisdiction to decide the dispute between the parties and it is a Court and that there was deficiency in service by the appellant-carrier.
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