A hotel can not shed responsibility if a car goes missing from the parking lot by just mentioning 'at owner's risk', the apex consumer commission ordered on Monday.
If a car goes missing from a hotel's parking lot, it should be deemed as negligence on the part of the establishment, a single-member bench consisting of M Shreesha said in its order. The verdict was delivered in a case in which a Maruti Zen had been stolen from the parking lot of Taj Mansingh Hotel in Delhi in 1998.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ordered the hotel to pay Rs 28 million to United India Insurance Company, which had insured the car, and pay interest at nine per cent from January 28, 1999, a report in The Times of India said.
The owner of the car, Sapan Dhawan, who had gone to Taj Mansingh Hotel to dine have dinner, left the keys with the parking man. He was issued a slip as well. When he returned two hours later, the car wasn't there. The security in-charge informed Dhawan that somebody else had driven his vehicle away.
The hotel had denied negligence on its part when Dhawan asked for Rs 53 million as compensation, stating that it was clearly mentioned in the parking slip that owners had parked cars at their own risk. Delhi State Commission did not but Taj Mansingh's argument and ordered it to pay a compensation of Rs 100,000 to Dhawan. The hotel paid the money but challenged the order in NCDRC.
"...When the parking tag is issued in the name of the hotel, it can be reasonably inferred by the 'car owner' that the car would be in the 'duty of care' and custody of the hotel, which in this case, it failed to exercise and is held liable to pay damages," NCDRC member Shreesha told TOI.
Stealing cars from parking lots is not a rare incident. Recently, an Audi belonging to businessman Arjun Garg was stolen from the parking lot of Holiday Inn in Aerocity.