Cases of carriage by air — question of limitation should be decided in accordance with Carriage By Air Act, 1972

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Division Member Bench of Dr S.M. Kantikar, Presiding Member, Dinesh Singh, Member, dismissed a revision petition filed against the order of the State Commission, whereby the petitioner was ordered to pay compensation to the respondent for deficiency in services.

The main issue that arose before the Commission was whether the complaint filed by the respondent was within the period of limitation.

The Commission observed that the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA) was enacted to provide an additional remedy to the consumer apart from other remedies available to them under different laws. The respondent herein was well within the ambit of “consumer” as per the provisions of COPRA and hence it had rightly approached the district forum for redressal of its grievances. The Commission further observed that Section 24A of the COPRA talks about the period of limitation in filing a complaint and it says that the complaint shall be filed within 2 years from the date on which the cause of action arose. It is pertinent to note that the instant case involved an issue of carriage by air and there is a separate enactment which governs the law related to carriage by air i.e. Carriage By Air Act, 1972 (1972 Act). Rule 30 of the Second Schedule of 1972 Act says that right to claim damages gets extinguished if an action is not brought against the erring party within 2 years from the date of arrival at the destination. Clearly in case if there arises a conflict between Section 24 A of the COPRA and Rule 30 of the 1972 Act, then Rule 30 shall prevail since the 1972 Act was enacted under Article 253 of the Constitution of India to implement an international convention.

The Commission held that as per the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Sahwney Export House (P) Ltd. v. Pakistan International Airlines, First Appeal No. 283 of 1992, the 1972 Act shall prevail over the provisions of COPRA if the case pertains to carriage by air and there is a question of limitation involved, even if the complaint is filed under the provisions of the COPRA. Resultantly, the Commission allowed the revision petition and set aside the order of the state commission.[Pakistan International Airlines v. Dar Trading Co., 2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 458, order dated 03-12-2018]

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