THE CARRIAGE BY AIR ACT, 1972

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The Carriage by Air Act was enacted by the Parliament on December 19, 1972 and came into force on March 23, 1973. The Act fundamentally aims to implement the Warsaw Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air which was signed on October 12, 1929. The application of the Convention extends to all carriage like carriage of passengers, baggage or cargos performed for remuneration. The Act also complies with the amendments made to the Warsaw Convention through the Protocol of amendments of the Warsaw Convention, 1959 dealing with the liability of the Air Carrier to passengers and Cargo ended at Hague in the year 1955. The Act extends to the entire Indian Territory including the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

The provisions of the Convention are made applicable in India by including the rights and responsibilities of travelers, carriers, consignors and other individuals in the First Schedule to the Act. These provisions shall be enforced in India for all carriages in an aircraft, whether the aircraft belongs to India or any other nation. The High Contracting Parties as provided under the Convention are certified by the Central Government through notification. The Central government shall also determine the authority of the Parties and the extent to which they are obliged to comply with the provisions of the First Schedule. The agent of an aircraft means the servants of such aircraft and they are equally bound by the provisions of the Act to the point provided under the Act. The notifications issued by the Central government according to the Indian Carriage by Air Act, 1934 and before the enforcement of the present Act shall continue in operation as if it were issued according to the provisions of the 1972 Carriage Act.

The Second Schedule to the Act contains provisions of the Protocol that amended the Warsaw Convention which contains the rights and obligations of the aircraft, travelers, consignors etc. The Act also prescribes the obligations of aircraft during the death of any passenger without considering the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act of 1855 and any other laws or rules enforced in India. The liability of the aircraft shall be inflicted for the welfare of the family members of the deceased person. The members of the family consists of either of the spouse, mother or father, grant-parents, brother and sister, half brother or half sister, children including step-child and grand-child.

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The action for recovering damages shall be brought by the legal representatives of the deceased passenger and only single action shall be initiated in India for the death of the traveler. Such action shall be brought by a person who shall be directly benefitted by the action and the amount received shall be distributed in the ratio according to the direction of the Court. The Court before whom an action is brought for recovering compensation shall decide the matter on the basis of justice and equity and taking into the provisions of the schedules to the Act.

The High Contracting Parties to the Warsaw Treaty or the Protocol shall impose a claim with regard to carriage assumed by him to initiate a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908 for the purpose of any suit brought by him for the violation of the Schedules to the Act. Moreover, certain provisions of the Act do not apply to international carriage by air except according to certain exclusions, adaptations and amendments.

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The Carriage by Air Act, 1972 was amended by the Carriage by Air (Amendment) Act 2009. The amending Act included the provisions of the Montreal Convention for the unification of certain rules for international carriage by air signed on May 28, 1999. According to the 2009 Act, the High Contracting Parties are those parties included in the Annexure I of the amending Act. The provisions of the Montreal Convention shall be included in Part III of Annexure I. Hence many important modifications were made to the 1972 Act by inserting new provisions to comply with international standards.