Jeeja Ghosh Nag has won her case against SpiceJet after 4 years

Jeeja Ghosh Nag was offloaded from a SpiceJet Kolkata-Goa flight on February 19, 2012, when she was going to attend a conference hosted by NGO Able Disable All People Together (ADAPT).

Ghosh was invited to the International Conference, North South Dialogue IV, in Goa, from February 19-23, 2012, hosted by ADAPT. The conference was intended to put a special focus on people with disabilities and their families, countries in the global South facing huge systemic and institutional barriers, and the tools for change that would make a difference in their lives in these countries. Ghosh was invited as one of the 15 international individuals to review an Indo-German project which was being show-cased at the conference.

ADAPT purchased return plane tickets for Ghosh, including a seat on flight SG 803, operated by SpiceJet Ltd. scheduled to fly from Kolkata to Goa in the morning of February 19, 2012. The conference was to begin in the afternoon.After being seated on the flight, Ghosh was approached by the members of the flight crew who requested to see her boarding pass, which she gave them.They proceeded to order her off the plane. Despite her tearful protestations and informing them that she needed to reach Goa for the conference, they insisted that she be de-boarded.After returning to the airport and arguing with airlines officials, she later discovered that the Captain had insisted that she be removed due to her disability.

The apex court said that it would like to conclude the judgment by observing that to most disabled persons, the society they live in is a closed door, which has been locked and the key to which has been thrown away by the others.It further stated that the apathy towards problems of the people with disabilities is so pervasive that even number of disabled persons in the country is not well documented.

The Supreme Court in its judgment observed that it was the common experience of several persons with disabilities that they were unable to lead a full life due to societal barriers and discrimination faced by them in employment, access to public spaces, transportation and others.The apex court also said that the persons with disability are most neglected lot, not only in the society but also in the family.

The Supreme Court observed that more often they are an object of pity. There are hardly any meaningful attempts to assimilate them in the mainstream of the nation’s life.The Supreme Court further stated that the SpiceJet acted in a callous manner and in the process violated DGCA’s rules of ‘Carriage by Air of Persons with Disability’.

“…Nobody even cared to interact with her and asked her the reason for the same. No doctor was summoned to examine her condition,” the court said. Ghosh was not provided with “appropriate, fair and caring treatment” and the decision to offload her was “uncalled for”, a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal said.

SpiceJet was directed to pay Rs 10 lakh today by the Supreme Court as damages to a differently-abled flyer for forcibly offloading her in 2012. The Supreme Court took into account the “mental and physical suffering” experienced by Jeeja Ghosh, who suffers from cerebral palsy. The court said "unreasonable discrimination” was shown towards her when she was de-boarded from the flight with “total lack of sensitivity”.

Hailing the Supreme Court’s verdict on the SpiceJet Jeeja Ghosh on Thursday said it was the victory of the disabled community.

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Good job by her. Need to appreciate her perseverance to let the law take its course in India and bring to book this company with such discriminating and unempathetic staff. And kudos to the courts for the verdict. It teaches fundamental human rights and consideration for the physically challenged people of India to all companies. I wish the captain and crew who ordered the passenger out also were penalised by the courts.

Sometimes I feel in India; the new service industry is creating batches of inconsiderate, robot-like people who forget they are members of our community, fellow citizens first, and only then comes their job and its policies. These people tend to act with such cold-heartedness and no common sense. Parroting policies while forgetting they too are humans with needs and are consumers in other places where they can also get similar treatment.