The Air India counsel, who held a meeting with family members of the May 22 air crash victims on Tuesday, is learnt to have told them that their demand for equal compensation for legal heirs of the dead was not legally tenable.

According to an office-bearer of the Mangalore Air Crash Victims' Families Association here on Wednesday, the counsel, H.D. Nanavati, said that there was no precedent of equal compensation being paid to the kin of all victims of any air crash.

He reportedly told them that the worth of persons would be taken into account while deciding the quantum of compensation. Though the families of the victims whose income was high would benefit the most, efforts would be made to ensure that the families that have lost earning members would get higher compensation.

The office-bearer said that payment of compensation could begin as early as the first week of August.

The association may soon hold its general body meeting soon to discuss the issue of equal compensation to all victims and the counsel's response.

The association had made this demand in a letter sent to the Secretary to the Department of Civil Aviation recently. The association's contention is that the passengers had paid equal airfare and hence the insurance element had to be equal for all of them.

It said the highest justified compensation must be paid to all the families, “irrespective of their status, income and net worth.”

Mr. Nanavati reportedly told the families that the quantum of compensation would be made known to them soon. The legal heir may have to sign a document saying that the he or she will not challenge the compensation in any court of law once it is accepted.

It was made clear to them that the maximum compensation the families could expect was Rs. 76 lakh under the Montreal Convention.

During the meeting, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Arivnd Jadhav is said to have told them that Rs. 70,000 would be given to the legal heir of each victim towards the loss of baggage.

The items that have remained unclaimed will be exhibited for identification. Mr. Jadhav also reportedly asked the families to send applications for jobs in Air India.

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