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National consumer disputes body awards Rs 2 crore compensation for a haircut gone massively wrong at ITC Maurya salon

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi has awarded Rs 2 crore compensation to the complainant for the complaint filed against the Salon of Hotel ITC Maurya, New Delhi alleging deficiency in service under Section 12 read with Section 21 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The complainant has filed the present complaint alleging deficiency in service on the part of Opposite Parties and seeking written apology from the ITC Management as well as compensation of 3 crores for harassment, humiliation and mental trauma.

Notice was issued and both parties were directed to submit written statement in which Yogesh Deveshwar, the chairman of ITC Company Ltd, contended that he is Non-Executive Chairman of the ITC Limited and complainant’s haircut were of high quality and these services were provided to the Complainant without consideration as a goodwill gesture inasmuch as the Complainant was the recipient of services at the Salon in the past. Complainant is not a ‘Consumer’ as defined u/s 2(1) (d) of the Act as the allegations made in the Complaint do not constitute a ‘Consumer Dispute’.

Further, the compensation of Rs 3 crore claimed in the complaint, is inflated, exaggerated and without any basis. No documentary evidence has been adduced by the Complainant justifying such a huge claim and as such, the Complaint deserves to be dismissed for want of pecuniary jurisdiction. The ITC Limited is one of the India’s foremost multi-business company and the complaint has been filed by the Complainant with a malafide intention to malign its reputation and goodwill and to extract unreasonably high and exaggerated compensation. The team at the Salon which provided the services of hairstyling and hair treatment to the Complainant is good and well trained by Moehair Experts. Christine Hou, who did the hair-cutting of the Complainant, has 27 years of experience and she is well known for hair-styling.

The Complainant has filed her Rejoinder denying all the rival contentions raised by the Opposite Parties in their Written Version and reiterating the averments made by her in the Complaint.

The Complainant has filed her own affidavit as evidence stating that; the hairdresser Christine did chop off her hair and caused an irreparable damage to her hair; she never had short hair; the chemicals used by ITC Ltd. and in the Salon for hair treatment, has caused permanent damage to her scalp which can be established from the medical treatment certificate issued to her by Dr Ranjit Kumar Das, MBBS. In his certificate, he has stated that “Aashna Roy has been suffering harsh chemical treatment on her hair-greying hair, scalp infection, dryness and itching as well as hair loss and she is advised to renew medication.”  

The court after hearing the complainant and the learned counsel for ITC at some length and also have gone through the material available on record, evidence adduced before us and Written Submissions filed by them With regard to the Preliminary Objection taken by the Opposite Parties that the Complainant is not a “Consumer” as defined u/s 2 (1)(d) of the Act since no consideration was paid for hair cutting and treatment, they do not find any substance in the said contention.

It cannot be believed that the company which is established for profit motive would provide free services with huge infrastructure, trained staff and management.

The court relied upon a three-member Bench of this Commission in the case of Ambrish Kumar Shukla & Ors. Vs. Ferrous Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. – I (2017) CPJ1 (NC) while dealing with the question of Pecuniary Jurisdiction of the Consumer Fora, has held that for the purpose of determining the pecuniary jurisdiction of a Consumer Forum under Act 1986, the consideration paid or agreed to be paid by the consumer at the time of purchasing the goods or hiring or availing of the services, as the case may be, plus the amount of the compensation, is to be considered.

Keeping in mind the observations of the Hon’ble Apex Court in a catena of judgments with respect to awarding compensation, we are of the considered view that the reasonable and just compensation is to be awarded to the Complainant. There is no doubt that the women are very cautious and careful with regard to their hair. They spend a handsome amount on keeping the hair in good condition. They are also emotionally attached with their hairs. The Complainant was a model for hair products because of her long hair. She has done modeling for VLCC and Pantene. But due to hair cutting against her instructions, by the salon she lost her expected assignments and suffered a huge loss which completely changed her lifestyle and shattered her dream to be a top model. 

Background-

The complainant, Aashna Roy, visited the Salon of Hotel ITC Maurya, New Delhi (Group of ITC Hotels) for hairstyling to have a clean and groomed appearance before the Interview Panel. According to the Complainant, she specifically instructed the hairdresser Christine for long flicks/layers covering her face in the front and at the back and 4-inch straight hair trim from the bottom. The hairdresser Christine chopped off her entire hair leaving only 4 inches from the top and barely touching her shoulders for which she was not instructed.

Firstly, a complaint was made to the Manager of the Salon, Gurpreet Acharya and she was not given any bill for hairstyling though generally she was earlier being charged heavily. It is stated that because of the hair cutting, the Complainant was not looking pretty and she stopped to lead her normal busy life.

As no action was taken against the hairdresser, the Complainant called the General Manger of the Salon, Zubin Songadwala, to look into the matter; however, he misbehaved with her stating that she was free to take any action against the Salon.

Consequently, the Complainant called Dipak Haksar, CEO of ITC Ltd. And an offer was also made to her by the Opposite Parties for extension of hairs for interview or for treatment of hairs free of costs for which she agreed after lot of persuasion. 

At the time of treatment, her hair and scalp got completely damaged with excess ammonia and there was lot of irritation in the scalp. Complainant asserted that the hairdresser scratched and cut her entire scalp with his nails on the pretext that he was doing this exercise to open the hair cuticles. But, when he put the cream which was laden with ammonia, her scalp got burnt.

NCDRC-Judgement-1632395136

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