Bhoja Air compensation: agony of heirs
THIS is apropos of the letter by S.M. Anwar ‘Bhoja Air compensation’ (June 10). I would like to point out that the agonies of the unfortunate heirs of the deceased passengers are much more complex than what is being projected. The compensation of Rs5 million is a statutory compensation that must be paid by Bhoja Air as ‘no fault liability’.
The air carrier cannot compel the legal heirs to accept this compensation and then forego their all rights of claiming any further fault-based compensation if and when ‘gross negligence’ and ‘willful misconduct’ is established through the air crash investigation. There is another possibility that if the crash took place due to some fault in the aircraft machinery then the heirs have a lawful right to claim compensation from the manufacturers by initiating their claims in the US. The air carrier is thus legally responsible to pay this amount of Rs5 million without compelling the heirs to sign a ‘final release’ document.
It has happened in the case of Airblue crash victims that the air carrier’s attempts to obtain final releases from the heirs were declared illegal by the Peshawar High Court.
In fact asking the heirs or compelling them to sign final release deeds is against the provision of contract act.
The airlines must not make the process complicated for the heirs to provide such documents which have cost in terms of
money and time to obtain.
It is the duty of the air carrier to assist the heirs in obtaining the legal documents and they must also pay for the costs involved for professional and legal fee.
It is in fact the duty of the CAA to facilitate and mitigate agonies of heirs of the crash victims by coordinating between the passengers and the air carriers to ensure quick and trouble free payment of statutory compensation to the heirs.
The CAA is also responsible to oversee that weak position of the heirs is not exploited by the air carrier or the persons touting for the insurers. Seeking elusive compensation is the right of every heirs of the air crash victim. However, exercise of this right does not deprive them of their entitlement to statutory compensation of Rs5 million. It is agreed that it is a humanitarian issue and because of this reason the CAA is requested to wake and safeguard the rights of the heirs.
After all there has to be a purpose of the consumer protection department of the CAA to help the troubled victims of an air crash. Who else deserves more protection of this department than the troubled heirs of air-crash victims?
DR ABDUL RAZZAQ