Former Bihar deputy CM and senior party leader Sushil Kumar Modi had suffered a serious spinal injury at Delhi airport seven years ago after falling on a JetLite bus he was travelling on to board an aircraft. The bus driver, who was allegedly speaking on his mobile while driving, did not realize he had gotten perilously close to a plane and then slammed the brakes to avoid hitting it.
Modi, who was on the bus with two other senior BJP leaders (now cabinet ministers) — Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kalraj Mishra — on December 2, 2007, fell and hit a pole inside the bus. Deputy CM at that time, he had to be hospitalized to a spinal injury centre in Vasant Kunj. Modi was since then fighting a case against the airline and got a verdict from a consumer court earlier this week.
The consumer disputes redressal forum (New Delhi) headed by C K Chaturvedi has held JetLite guilty of "deficiency and imperfect services to complainant passenger (Modi)". It has awarded Modi a compensation of Rs 1 lakh along with another Rs 50,000 as litigation expenses.
"It is alleged that the driver of the ferry bus (which takes passengers from terminal building to aircraft) was busy talking on his mobile (while driving) and unmindful of aircraft parked at the terminal. He was about to collide with an Air Deccan aircraft and suddenly forcefully applied brakes to avert collision. The complainant was standing the bus fell and hit the hit a pole in the bus. He suffered spinal cord injury," C K Chaturvedi's order issued this week states. Modi then had to be admitted to a spinal injury centre in Vasant Kunj.
The case dragged on for so many years as JetLite denied negligence on part of its bus driver. But Modi kept pursuing the case as he was reportedly very hurt by the behaviour of the airline. "The three MPs have stated on oath that he (the driver) was talking on phone, oblivious to the presence of other aircraft and only on getting too near (an aircraft), used brakes to avoid collision ... Carrying passengers to planes by aerobridge or coach is part of service (of an airline)," C K Chaturvedi's order says.
It adds that the order will have to be complied within a month, failing which action will be taken against JetLite under stringent provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.