Pay Lawful Compensation to Families of Deceased and Injured in Plane Crash

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Around 7:40 pm IST this Friday (August 7), Air India Express flight IX-1344, while landing amidst rain at the Calicut International Airport (Kerala, India), skidded off the 'tabletop runway' and fell into a valley 35 feet below. It was carrying 184 passengers including 10 infants, and 7 crew members from UAE to India. The plane’s impact with the ditch led to the loss of 18 lives. Most of the remaining people got injured with 23 of them falling into critical condition.

Many believe the cause of the crash was negligence on the part of either Calicut International Airport (which comes under Kerala State Government's authority) or Air India Express or both. As per PTI reports, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in July 2019 issued a notice to the Kozhikode airport director after finding “various critical safety lapses”, including on the runway and in the apron. The notice pointed to runway cracks, water stagnation and excess rubber deposits. The flight's maintenance and operation in the accident is also under inquiry and cannot be ignored. If the investigation proves these claims, then the victims of the unfortunate incident will be victims of negligence.

However, even without proof of negligence on anybody’s part, all the victims are entitled to certain compensation under the “Montreal Convention” which India entered into in June 2009. Under the Convention which provides guidelines for the compensation of victims of air disasters, air carriers are strictly liable for proven damages up to 128,821.00 special drawing rights (SDR) in the case of bodily injury or death, regardless of whether the cause of the accident was negligence on behalf of the air carrier or not. The Convention also requires air carriers to carry liability insurance for the same purposes. Currently, 128,821.00 SDR are equal to INR 13674804.91, roughly almost Rs. 1 Crore and 37 Lacs.

However, this is the compensation the victims are currently receiving: 

From Kerala State Government: Rs. 10 Lacs to the family of the deceased

From Air India: Family of deceased above the age of 12: Rs. 10 Lacs, Family of deceased below the age of 12: Rs. 5 Lacs, Critically injured: Rs. 2 Lacs, Injured: Rs. 50,000

It is pretty clear that the compensation currently offered is absolutely obnoxious. Therefore, this petition seeks compensation in accordance with the Montreal Convention. Even though a life cannot be associated with monetary value, the Convention still provides acceptable guidelines for compensating the victims and their families. 

Following are the petition's minimum demands for compensating the victims:

Family of deceased (irrespective of age): Rs. 1 Crore 30 Lacs, Critically injured: Rs. 60 Lacs, Injured: Rs. 20 Lacs 

I did not happen to know anyone in the flight so I cannot understand the trauma the affected people are going through. But most of the passengers were returning to their families to be close to them during this global pandemic (Covid-19). Therefore, every lost life has affected several more lives. We must stand up for them as fellow human beings.                                      

(Statistics and Facts in the petition were cross-checked from several media houses as well as the official website of International Civil Aviation Organization.)