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Air India fined Rs 40,000 for serving non-veg to vegetarian couple; accused of hurting religious sentiments

BusinessToday.In     September 24, 2019

Air India has been fined Rs 40,000 for serving non-vegetarian food to a vegetarian Brahmin couple during their journey from Chicago to New Delhi on November 14, 2016. The Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has not only slammed the national carrier for the faulty services but also increased the fine amount by four times from Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000. The consumer forum has also asked Air India to pay Rs 7,000 as legal expenses to the couple.

The national carrier has been directed to deposit the fine amount within a period of 30 days of getting a copy of the commission orders, failing which it will be liable to pay an interest of 12% on the penalty amount.

The complainant Chandra Mohan Pathak, a resident of sector 121 of Mohali, Punjab alleged that he had booked to and fro tickets for him and his wife from New Delhi to Chicago on June 17, 2016, and for November 14, 2016, from Chicago to New Delhi.

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Pathak in his complaint stated that he had given clear instructions to the airliner that he and his wife should only be served vegetarian food. While, the food served during the New Delhi-Chicago flight was as according to Pathak's choice, the one served during the return journey was non-vegetarian.

He told the forum that while eating the food he and his wife noticed that there was something wrong with the taste and eventually found meat in the food. The couple immediately brought it to the notice of the cabin crew as there was no way to differentiate vegetarian from non-vegetarian since there was no proper marking on the food packets.

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Pathak wanted to file a written a complaint in the airline's complaint book right away but it was not provided to him. However, he went ahead and filed a complaint with the consumer forum.

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in April this year slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on the national carrier along with Rs 7,000 towards compensation and legal expenses. But, Air India challenged the decision at state consumer disputes redressal commission which also found it guilty of deficiency in services and favoured Pathak.

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The forum also observed that the cabin crew should have checked with the couple before serving them the food.

"Serving a non- vegetarian food to the vegetarian passenger was not only a deficiency in services but also a sin in the eyes of God. The airliner by doing so also hurt the religious feelings of the passenger," it said.

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