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Carriage By Air Act Expressly Excludes Provisions Of Limitation Act: Supreme Court Carriage By Air Act Expressly Excludes Provisions Of Limitation Act: Supreme Court

Anila Sabu ,
  04 August 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
Hon’ble Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4978 of 2022 ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 16767/2018

Case Title:
Bhagwandas B. Ramchandani Vs British Airways

Date Of Order:
30th July 2022

Justices KM Joseph and PS Narasimha



The Supreme Court ruled that the Second Schedule to the Air Carriage Act of 1972's Rule 30 disallows the use of the Limitation Act of 1963.

The Bombay High Court's ruling that a lawsuit brought by a private firm against British Airways is time-barred was overturned by the bench of Justices KM Joseph and PS Narasimha.

Important Provisions

  1. The Air Act
  2. Rule 30

If a claim is not filed within two years, measured from the date of arrival at the destination, the date on which the aircraft should have arrived, or the date on which the carrying ceased, the entitlement to damages will expire.

  1. Article 29

To analyse samples of air or emissions provided to any laboratory established or designated under subsection, the State Government may, by publication in the Official Gazette, appoint those it deems appropriate who meet the required qualifications as Government Analysts.


  • This appeal was a result of a lawsuit brought by a proprietary concern involved in the import and export trade.
  • It had used British Airways' services on January 4 and June 30, 2010, to ship a consignment of fruits and vegetables from Mumbai to Canada through London.
  • Both the first and second cargoes could not be sent because of London's poor weather and packaging, respectively.
  • Because both loads were damaged, the proprietary firm filed a claim on July 20, 2010, for $4,27,922.
  • On 2nd November 2010, Airways sent a letter acknowledging receipt of the notice and making a settlement offer equal to 50% of the claim amount.
  • Later, on September 15, 2012, the proprietary firm filed a lawsuit before the City Civil Court in Mumbai to recover the sum of $9,17,642.56 with interest.
  • The Airways submitted written comments claiming, among other things, that the lawsuit is time-barred.
  • The Trial Court ruled that the lawsuit was not time-barred because the Respondent had acknowledged a proposed settlement of the claim at 50% of the demand on October 28, 2010, which is when the limitation period required by Rule 30 of the Second Schedule to the Carriage by Air Act, 1972, could be calculated. Section 18 of the Limitation Act was used for this purpose.
  • The Bombay High Court granted the appeal and declared the lawsuit to be time-barred, dismissing it.


  1. Whether the provisions of Rule 30 of the Second Schedule of the Carriage by Air Act, 1972 fall under the purview of the Limitation Act, 1963?
  2. Whether the Limitation Act of 1963 expressly excluded by the Air Act of 1972, in particular Rule 30 of the Second Schedule?


  • The appellant emphasised that, according to Rule 30(2)'s plain language, the Limitation Act applies to actions brought under the Air Act of 1972.
  • The appellant also claimed that the phrase "method of calculating limitation period" in Rule 30(2) is equivalent to the phrase "to determine any period of limitation" found in Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act.
  • He argues that the Limitation Act is expressly included in the legal framework of the Air Act of 1972 by Sub-Rule (2) of Rule 30.


  • The respondent had presented the court with decisions made by international courts that had addressed Article 29 and interpreted the aforementioned provision, more or less consistently holding that domestic statutes of limitations will not affect the two-year timeframe.
  • the respondent argued that it was crucial to reiterate a widely accepted concept before we discuss these rulings: while interpreting international treaties and conventions, courts of law must make an effort to ensure consistency of interpretation with courts in other countries.


The court noted that Rule 30 (2) does not permit the applicability of exclusion of periods to reckon two years while taking into account the legislative history of the Convention and the consistent interpretation of Article 29 of the Convention adopted in various jurisdictions. This was done for the sake of uniformity as well as to serve the purpose and object of the Convention.

The bench emphasised that since the goal of the Convention is to bring about the unification of Rules related to International Carriage by Air, Sub-Rule (2) must be read harmoniously while also taking into account the content of Sub-Rule (1).

The court further observed that the purpose of Article 35(2) was to merely set the "begin" and "expiration" dates of the action (or suit) in accordance with local legal requirements. This position was made evident by the example provided by the French Delegation because it was done to accommodate clauses like pre-trial conferences.

The Court mentioned that if obligatory pre-trial mediation is included in the legislation in India, such a situation may develop. The lawmakers left some latitude for domestic law to function to prepare for this possibility.


1. Hukumdev Narain Yadav v. Lalit Narain Mishra ((1974) 3 SCR 31)

Ms Ritu Singh Mann, an attorney for the respondent airlines, argued that the Air Act of 1972's provisions can be interpreted to imply the exclusion under Section 29. The learned attorney cited the ruling in Hukumdev Narain Yadav v. Lalit Narain Mishra12 as support for his argument. The Respondent attempted to make the argument for the Air Act of 1972's Rule 35 of the Third Schedule rather than Rule 30 of the Second Schedule for the first time in the written submissions.

2. To support the arguments, the court's attention was also brought to rulings from the courts of the United Kingdom (Sidhu v. British Airways ([1997] 1 All ER 193)), the United States of America (Fishman v. Delta Airlines (Supra no. 11), Kahn v. Trans World Airlines (82 A.D. 2d 696: (1981) 443 NYS 2d 79)), Australia (Bhatia v. Malaysian Airline System Berhad ((2018) FCA 1471)), and New Zealand (Philips v. Air New Zealand (2002) EWHC 800 (Commercial Court))).


After carefully contemplating the situation, the court stated in dismissing the appeal, that Rule 30 of the Carriage by Air Act of 1972 specifically disallows the use of the Limitation Act of 1963.

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