Mumbai's prestigious Ambassador Hotel has been ordered by the top consumer commission to pay Rs two lakh each to six of its guests who had been trapped in its lift for over two hours 18 years ago.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) held Narangs International Hotel Pvt Ltd, which manages Ambassador Hotel, "squarely negligent" for not ensuring proper maintenance of its lifts and not taking prompt steps to rescue the trapped guests.
"The opposite party hotel was squarely negligent in not ensuring proper maintenance of the lifts and not taking the prompt/timely steps to rescue the entrapped complainants clearly amounts to deficiency in service.
"The hotel as a service provider had the independent primary duty to ensure that the lift was properly maintained for the users all 24 hours a day.
"We are, therefore, clearly of the view that the accountability and responsibility of the hotel cannot in any way be mitigated/minimised just because they had a contract with Otis Elevator Co (India) Ltd (for maintaining lifts)," the bench presided by Justice RC Jain said and asked the hotel to also pay the victims Rs 10,000 as cost of litigation.
The NCDRC's order came on the plea of Ambassador Hotel's 10 guests who had been staying there on February 28, 1994, six of whom were trapped in the lift.
The complainants, five foreigners and five Indians, had alleged that not only they had to suffer an over six-hour long power cut during the wee hours on February 28, 1994, six of them were also trapped in an elevator for over two hours the same day and had sought a compensation of Rs 43 lakh.
Narangs International Hotel, in its defence, had argued that as per its rules, the guests used the facilities and services at their "own risk".
The NCDRC bench also comprising member S K Naik, however, rejected the contention saying "we deprecate this course adopted by the hotel to escape their liability irrespective of whether it is stated in their house rule or otherwise."
The hotel had also filed a plea against the lift maker, Otis Elevator Co, holding it responsible for not maintaining the lifts which resulted in the guests getting trapped in one of them.
The commission dismissed the plea saying Otis had been asking the hotel to accept their estimate for the maintenance of the lifts and to shut down the elevators for a period of three weeks, but the hotel had paid no heed.