Meat to vegetarian, bad service but not insult: Court


Ahmedabad: Vadodara’s Chirag Bhatt has to be content with $40 after Korean Airlines served him chicken by mistake on its flight, though he is a strict vegetarian Brahmin. T

Bhatt’s getting angry with the air crew, creating ruckus on board for hurting his religious sentiments by making him eat non-vegetarian food, and at last fighting a six-year long legal battle – all came to nought as a local consumer court has asked the airline to pay him $40, the amount which the company initially offered him for its mistake. The airline got away mainly on the ground that it was not an intended mischief on its part and that it had no knowledge of the fact that feeding non-vegetarian food would hurt Bhatt’s religious sentiments.

A resident of Subhanpura area, Bhatt was travelling from San Francisco to Mumbai in January 2010 by Korean Airlines. He informed the crew that he is a vegetarian, yet he was provided chicken. He took a bite and realized that it was non-veg food. Upon his complaint, the crew apologized and at Seoul, the management offered him compensation of $40, which he refused.

Upon arrival, Bhatt sued the airline before the Vadodara district Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum and demanded Rs 3 lakh for causing mental agony, Rs 50,000 for legal expenditure and requested the court to fine the company with Rs 1 lakh for deficiency in service and hurting his religious feelings.

The airline told the court that Bhatt was mistakenly served Hindu Non-vegetarian Meal (HNML according to International Air Transport Association), which contains poultry, meat and seafood but no beef product. He consumed a small portion of HNML without checking food content. On his complaint, he was service with salad served only to business class passengers. He refused and created ruckus on board. He refused compensation. His gesture was not motivated by religious sentiments, but it was for financial gain. He refused to eat anything, but took beer.

After hearing the case, the consumer court said that there was misunderstanding between him and food provider. There was no malafide intention on part of the crew to serve non-veg food. The airline had no knowledge that his religious sentiments would be hurt by a particular act. The passenger should have made an inquiry before consuming the food. Later he drank beer and took vegetarian food before landing in Mumbai. The court said that deficiency in service and hurting religious sentiments are two different things, and cannot be confused with in this incident. The court asked the airline to pay Bhatt $40 for mental shock due to eating non-veg food and Rs 1,000 towards litigation cost.



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