In response to a five-year-old complaint made by Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas of the Kerala High Court against Qatar Airways for removing him and his friends from the plane despite possessing tickets, a consumer court in this city fined the airline Rs 7.5 lakh.
The consumer court ordered an amount of Rs 7 lakh to be paid to the complainant as compensation for the mental distress, hardship, and physical stress that endured as a result of the other parties’ poor service and unfair business practices, along with an additional Rs 50,000 to cover the expense of the legal action.
His case was brought before the Consumer Commission in 2018, two years before he was sworn in as a judge. The 54-year-old judge, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas, is the son of former Supreme Court Judge K.T. Thomas.
His case was against Qatar Airways, for which he and friends had booked tickets for months before their actual departure date. However, when they arrived in Qatar from Kochi on their way to Scotland, they were told that the flight to Edinburgh had been overbooked. They provided hotel accommodations, a $250 voucher, and booked the group on a flight to Edinburgh the next day.
Thomas issued a legal notice to Qatar Airways after arriving at his house requesting compensation, but he never heard back. Thomas then went to the Ernakulam district commission to get compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs.
On December 30, 2022, the Consumer Court finally granted Justice Thomas’ request. The Consumer Court determined that it is an unfair business practise and a deficit in service to prevent passengers with valid boarding cards from boarding the flight. The airline must pay a total fine of Rs. 7.5 lakh to the court within 30 days.