Decided on March 02,2006

AIR FRANCE Respondents


J.D.KAPOOR,PRESIDENT - (1.) RESPONDENT No. 1/Air France Carrier carries on the business of carriage by air passengers, luggage and goods, for consideration. Respondent -3 is the agent of respondent -1. Complainant is engaged in the business of sale purchase and export of carpets. Through this complaint the complainant has sought compensation of value of the goods amounting to Rs. 7,19,114.50 booked through the O.P. and Rs. 3,45,412 for additional expenses and damages for respondents failure to deliver the same to the consignee.
(2.) THE allegations of complainant giving rise to this complaint are as under: (i) Complainant booked 20 bales containing 71 pieces of Kashmir Handmade Handknotted Rayon carpets with respon -dent -1 through its agent respondent -3 at their Delhi office on 30.12.1992. The respondent -3 issued Airway Bill No. 057 -1125 4176 dated 30.12.1992 on behalf of respondent -1 i.e., carriers and also received Rs. 56,100 as air freight charges from the complainant for such cargo. The cargo which contained 20 bales was booked in the name of Commerce Bank, 2000 Hamburg, Germany and the purchaserofthegoodswas M/s. Asadi Orienteppiche Brook Torkai -16, Hamburg, Germany. (ii) In April 1993 on inquiry from the carriers about the fate of the shipment, complainants were surprised to learn that their shipment was still lying in the store of the carriers at Hamburg (Germany) Airport and was informed to take necessary steps for the lifting of the shipment. The complainant requested the carriers to keep their shipment in their store at Hamburg Airport till the matter is looked into. It was agreed by the carriers on the condition that the complainant shall pay storage charges. (iii) In response to the said agreement complainant deposited the advance of Rs. 85,000 towards storage charges and for this carriers issued a receipt No. 0131 dated 2.4.1993. (iv) Immediately after depositing Rs. 85,000 as advance towards storage charges, one of the partners of the complainant firm started taking necessary steps in arranging visa for his journey to Hamburg (Germany) so that reasons for not lifting of goods were ascertained. It was on 28.5.1993 that one of the partners of the complainant -firm namely Mr. Liaqat Ali went to Hamburg (Germany) for looking into the reasons. (v) The carriers kept the complainants partner waiting for lifting of goods for one week and ultimately informed that the goods have already been auctioned. (vi) The complainant tried to get the explanation from the carriers about their deficiency in service but carriers realising their negligence avoided to give any explanation and even did not give any date of auction. (vii) The complainant on arrival immediately on 15.7.1993 wrote to the carriers for compensating the complainant about the loss which occurred due to the negligence and deficiency in service of the carriers. (viii) Vide letter dated 16th April, 1994 the claimant asked for full cost of the shipment, insurance paid on shipment, freight (air) paid, amount spent by partner of the firm in going to Hamburg (Germany) and advance storage charges totalling Rs. 10,84,526.
(3.) HOWEVER , the claim was repudiated. Hence this complaint. On behalf of O.P.Nos. 1 and 2 the complaint was resisted on the following grounds: (i) The crux of the complaint boils down to a receipt for Rs. 85,000 advance towards storage charges . The contention of the complainant as per paragraphs 4 -5 of the complaint that this advance of Rs. 85,000 was towards storage charges to keep the goods indefinitely till the matter is looked into  is incorrect as this amount was received at the complainants request to assist that the goods remain with Customs Authority in Germany and only upto 15th April, 1993. German Customs sold the goods at the end of May 1993 though the complainant had indicated that they would be collecting the same before that. (ii) Receipt itself des not imply any contract. There are no terms or settlement by which goods were to be stored indefinitely and they were sold by German customs over which the O.P. No. 1 has no control whatsever, as auction is carried out in accordance with the rules and laws of Germany. (iii) The entire problem arose because of dispute between the complainant and his consignee who has not been arraigned as a party. When the consignee did not pay and did not collect goods, they remained undelivered. The complainant was informed that the goods remained undelivered and though he paid some storage charges there was no contract for the goods to be kept indefinitely. ;

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