32. Res ipsa loquitur literally means the thing speaks for itself. The maxim means that an accident may by its nature be more consistent with its being caused by negligence for which the defendant is responsible than by other causes, and that in such a case the mere fact of the accident is prima facie evidence of such negligence. The maxim res ipsa loquitur has been considered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in a number of cases. Ordinarily, mere proof that an event or accident, the cause of which is unknown, has happened is no proof of negligence. The maxim applies to cases where the peculiar circumstances constituting the event or accident proclaim that the negligence of somebody is the cause of the event or accident. In the first place, the event or accident must be of a kind which does not happen in the ordinary course of things if those who have management and control use due care; secondly, it must also be shown that the event or thing which caused the accident was within the defendant's control. Res ipsa loquitur is in essence no more than a common sense approach, not limited by technical rules, to the assessment of the effect of evidence in certain circumstances. It means that a plaintiff prima facie establishes negligence where (i) it is not possible for him to prove precisely what was the relevant act or omission which set in train the events leading to the accident, but (ii) on the evidence as it stands, i.e. in the absence of any evidence from the defendant, it is more likely than not that the effective cause of the accident, whatever it may have been, was some act or omission of the defendant or of someone for whom the defendant was responsible, which act or omission constitutes a failure to take proper care for the plaintiff's safety. The application of res ipsa loquitur is not necessarily excluded merely because there has been a possibility of outside interference with the things through which the accident happened. The principle of res ipsa loquitur only shifts the onus of proof, in that a prima facie case is assumed to be made out, throwing on the defendant the task of proving that he was not negligent.
We are, therefore, of the view that for the accident in question i.e. the crashing of the Indian Airlines corporation aircraft Boeing 737 Aircraft VT-EAH on its daily scheduled flight IC 113 from Bombay to Ahmedabad at 0653 IST in the morning of 19th October, 1988 at a distance of 2540 mtrs. from the beginning of runway 23 at the Ahmedabad Airport in poor visibility conditions, the major share goes to the pilot-in-command and the co-pilot of the Indian Airlines. They acted recklessly with knowledge about probable damage about the consequence of their acts and omissions. We are also of the view that there was some negligence on the part of the Airport Authority of Ahmedabad in not providing the latest visibility report to the aircraft by getting the RVR from the Meteorological office at the airport (paras 53 to 57 hereinabove). The degree of negligence on the part of the pilot-in-command and the co-pilot of the Indian Airlines was so high that the same amounted to recklessness on their part as contemplated by Rule 25 to the Second Schedule to the Carriage by Air Act, 1972. The accident in question was because of recklessness on the part of the Indian Airlines and their servants, particularly the pilot-in-command as well as the co-pilot, with knowledge of the probable consequences of attempting to land without any clearance from the Air Traffic Control, Ahmedabad, without having cared to spot the VASI lights and without having cared to take note of NOTAMS sent by the Airport Authority of India, Ahmedabad about availability of VASI lights and non-availability of Instrument Landing System and non-operational approach lights.