Have you read about the Brahmin who was awarded RM20,000 for being served chicken onboard a MAS flight?
While I fully agree that a passenger should get the special meal which he specifically ordered and paid for (here, I'm assuming that the Brahmin pre-ordered a vegetarian meal)... I take offence to the reasoning of the Magistrate, in finding for the Brahmin against MAS.
Magistrate M. Rajalingam said, "being born in a Brahmin family, having been brought up in the Brahmin way of life and being a vegetarian accords him [Arvind] a social status and is addressed with the honorific ‘Pundit’ in India," he said.While the fact that the Brahmin was indeed a Brahmin provides strong evidence of his "preference" for a vegetarian diet, what is the purpose of making a statement that Brahmins enjoy certain 'social status' and 'honorifics'?
"Thus he was entitled to self-respect and dignity. The tort committed upon him in this instance has been fortified by the evidence that he is a strict Brahmin who has never consumed meat in his life."
What does the fact that Brahmins are the highest caste in mainland Indian traditional society have to do with the dispensation of law in a Malaysian court?
How is the Brahmin's case 'fortified' by the fact that he is a Brahmin? Does this mean that the learned magistrate deems that a lower caste Indian, in similar circumstances, will enjoy less 'fortification' with his complaint? What if the complainant is a pariah or dalit/untouchable, who has similarly sworn off meat his entire life? Will his complaint be less 'fortified'? How about a non-Indian who's similarly vegetarian.
Since when did Malaysian law start discriminating based on social castes? Oops... bad rhetorical question. The answer:- since its inception in 1957!
Text of the full report below:
Brahmin who was served meat gets RM20,000
Saturday, 09 June 2007, New Straits Times
GEORGE TOWN: A staunch Brahmin Hindu, who was served a chicken pakoda on a Malaysia Airlines flight from Bangalore to Kuala Lumpur four years ago, was yesterday awarded RM20,000 in compensation by the magistrate’s court.
Magistrate M. Rajalingam said the award, including interest, was for aggravated damages to Arvind Sharma for injury to his feelings as well as depression, shock and mental anguish and stress coupled with humiliation, loss of pride and self-esteem.
The court, he said, found "on the balance of probabilities that Arvind has proven his case against the defendant, Malaysia Airlines".
Arvind, a cargo agent for delivery of Dell computers in India, had filed for general and special damages against MAS for serving him non-vegetarian food onboard flight MH193 on March 15, 2003.
Rajalingam said there were positive confirmations that the pakoda served was chicken and further evidence was corroborated with a complaint written and acknowledged by both parties.
"Being born in a Brahmin family, having been brought up in the Brahmin way of life and being a vegetarian accords him a social status and is addressed with the honorific ‘Pundit’ in India," he said.
"Thus he was entitled to self-respect and dignity. The tort committed upon him in this instance has been fortified by the evidence that he is a strict Brahmin who has never consumed meat in his life.
"The defendant’s negligence has caused him a blemish in his code of conduct."
Arvind claimed he threw up after eating the pakoda because it contained chicken.
He tasted something odd after swallowing a portion of the pakoda and immediately stopped eating it.
He removed the balance from his mouth.
He then asked his childhood friend, Rohit Bathla, who was seated beside him, to taste the rest of the pakodas and it was confirmed to be chicken.
Arvind subsequently complained to the flight stewardess on board who apologised. A stewardess later filled-out a complaint form acknowledging chicken had been served to Arvind.
MAS, in its statement of defence, had refuted all charges made by Arvind.