The Delhi High Court in M/S Jet Airways (India) Ltd. vs. M/S Dhanuka Laboratories Ltd., has asserted that notable corporations must not only be responsible litigants, but must also ensure that there is no frivolous litigation, especially when as a carrier of goods, the goods are lost by the appellant through its agent carrier to whom the goods were handed over.
Jet Airways filed the suit to challenge the judgments of the trial court and the First Appellate Court, by which the suit filed by Dhanuka Labs for recovering the value of the goods lost by the airlines had been decreed for Rs.2,57,062 (being the invoice value of the goods) with interest at 12% per annum pre-suit and pendente lite, with future interest from the date of decree at 6% per annum.
Justice Valmiki Mehta, speaking for the bench, held that the frivolousness of the case was also clear from the fact that the Jet Airways led no evidence whatsoever in the trial court to discharge the onus, which had shifted upon in on account of Dhanuka Laboratories having led evidence as to the value of the goods lost by the airlines and also factum of negligence/wilful misconduct and/or misappropriation of goods by Jet.
The court observed that Jet was contesting the suit on weak defence such as that as per the Airway Bill, no value of the goods was given by Dhanuka Labs and, therefore, the suit amount cannot be claimed, and the second ground placing upon Rule 22(2) of the Schedule of the Carriage by Air Act, 1972, as per which the carrier is entitled to limit its liability to a particular amount stated in the provision along with certain additional charges.
However the court decided the suit in favour of Dhanuka Labs stating the following reasons:
The court held:
“Therefore, once the present case is laid out by the respondent/plaintiff as per the plaint as a case falling as a case of willful misconduct or equivalent to wilful misconduct i.e misappropriation of goods, the case will have to be decided as per Rule 25 and not Rule 22 as argued on behalf of the appellant/defendant.”
The court, apart from benefiting Dhanuka Labs, with cost of Rs 5,106, imposed a fine on Jet Airways of Rs 50,000, that was to be paid to Dhanuka within six weeks, and thus, dismissed the appeal.
Read the Judgment here.
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