Indian Airlines Corporation vs Madhuri Chowdhary Case deals with the interpretation of the exemption clause when the parties entered into a contract. Section 73 of the Indian Contract Act 1872 says that if all the terms of the contract are clear, then there is no need to pay compensation. The exemption clause in a contract that exempts one’s liability must be unambiguous then need not pay compensation for the damages caused which is mentioned in this clause and has reasonable notice.
- A deadly and tragic air crash took place on 12th December 1953, around 3:25 am when a Dakota airplane VT-CHF crashed when it was flying to Madras.
- The route of the plane was from Nagpur to Madras. All the crew members and passengers died in the air crash except for the pilot, Desmond Arthur James Carter.
- A deceased husband’s wife sued Air India Corporation that they have to pay compensation for the death of her husband stating that Air India corporation was not safely conveying the passenger to their destination and there was a breach of contract by the defendant.
Whether there was a breach of contract by Airlines or not?
- The plaintiff contended the incident happened when they said the plane attempted to land about two miles from the end of the Nagpur Airport, but couldn’t do so because of an engine failure.
- Because of this, there is a breach of contract as there is negligence on defendant’s part.
- The compensation has to be paid for the damage caused that is death of her husband.
- The defendant contended that there is no breach as there is an exemption clause in the air ticket.
- The clause mentioned in the backside exempted the corporation from the liability arising from the death or injury of the passenger whether caused by default of the carrier or the pilot or by any of the crew members on that plane.
The Honorable Judges present to hear this case were Justice P Mukharji and Justice S Masud. The judges were of the opinion that-
- The exemption clause mentioned in the ticket of the deceased and came to a conclusion that the contract did not offend against the provisions of the Contract Act and that it gave complete immunity to the defendant from loss or damage entrusted to its care for carriage.
- If the deceased entered into this contract during his lifetime excluded himself from the right of claiming damage, then his beneficiaries under the Act could not claim it.
- The exemption clause mentioned in the ticket was of the deceased and came to a conclusion that the contract did not offend against the provisions of the Contract Act and that it gave complete immunity to the defendant from loss or damage committed to its care for carriage.
The court held that the exemption clause was good, valid, and legal. The court also held that there was no negligence of the defendant corporation or the pilot. Therefore, the appeal was allowed.
Through this judgment, the concept of an exemption clause gained a new perspective and got even more clarification. It makes sure justice is served rightly based on facts and not on people’s emotions and their losses.