Ahmedabad: Twenty-one years after an Indian Airlines air crash in which 131 persons were killed, the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday ordered that a compensation of Rs 6 crore be paid to the families of 34 victims who had approached the court for higher quantum.
The verdict was given by a division bench of Justices M S Shah and H N Devani while upholding a lower court order and directed IA and Airport Authority of India (AAI) to pay the compensation to the petitioners by December 31, 2009.
The court also rejected the plea by the two agencies for a stay on the order to enable it to approach a higher court.
The compensation amount would be paid along with an interest of nine per cent per annum calculated from 1989 when the petitioners had approached the lower court.
The IA Boeing 737 plane had crashed a few kilometres away from the Ahmedabad airport on October 19, 1988 killing 131 people on board including the crew members.
The family members of 34 victims had approached the lower court demanding compensation higher than that given by the airline claiming that the accident was caused due to negligence of IA and AAI.
The High Court while upholding the March 2003 sessions court court order to IA and AAI to pay compensation of over Rs 6 crore to the petitioners however altered the ratio of compensation and asked the airline to pay 90 per cent and the aviation body the remaining 10 per cent.
The sessions court had earlier asked IA to give 70 per cent while AAI the remaining 30 per cent.
Both the IA and AAI later moved the Gujarat High Court in 2004 challenging the lower court's order.
A lawyer representing one of the petitioners, Subhash Barot, said the HC has increased the annual interest rate to nine per cent from six per cent as ordered by the lower court.
The HC has also asked the IA and AAI to bear the litigation costs of the petitioners, Barot said.
The compensation to be received by the petitioners, when put together, would amount to over Rs 6 crore, he said.