New Delhi, November 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court has said that an airline company is bound by the promised delivery date given by its agent through whom the consignment was booked.
A bench of Justices A.S. Bopanna and P.S. Narasimha said that an agent of Kuwait Airways had promised that the goods shall be delivered within one week but the shipment was delivered after one-and-a-half months, adding that “there was negligent delay in the delivery of consignment”.
“As a matter of fact, it is an admitted position that the consignment which was booked on 24.07.1996, was delivered after one-and-a-half months, i.e. from 03.09.1996 to 12.09.1996,” the bench said.
In 1997, a complaint was filed by the Rajasthan Art Emporium – which exports handicrafts to several counties – after a shipment failed to reach the US within an assured timeline of seven days.
Through a letter, the consignee informed the complainant that the goods were not received in toto and Kuwait Airways was unable to trace the remaining cartons.
In its order passed in October 2012, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had directed the airline to pay the complainant $50,070 (up to Rs 20 lakh) along with 9 per cent per annum compensation from July, 1996 till its realisation.
The Commission noted that the air freight which is 10 times more than the sea freight was paid only to ensure that the consignment reaches its destination within a week, because sea cargo would have taken 25 to 30 days for delivery.
The airline contended before the apex court that no specific instructions were given by the Rajasthan Art Emporium with regard to the time by which the consignments had to reach its destination, therefore, time was not the essence of contract entered into between the parties.
“Once the agent has issued a time schedule for delivery of consignment, it cannot be said that there is no material indicating that there was no agreement for delivery of the consignment in time,” held the Supreme Court.
“We approve and sustain the order passed by the NCDRC,” it added.