While upholding an order passed by the Rajasthan state consumer disputes redressal commission, the national consumer disputes redressal commission (NCDRC) directed MakeMyTrip India Pvt Ltd to pay Rs2 lakh compensation and Rs21,000 litigation cost for deficiency in service for a tour package.
In an order last week
, the NCDRC bench of Subhash Chandra (presiding member) and Dr Sadhna Shanker (member) says, "Premium inclusions at Singapore shows that there was three nights accommodation and the proposed hotel was Marina Bay Sands, Singapore but the booking was made only for two nights, i.e. from 24 June 2012 (check-in) to 26 June 2012 (check out). It is to be noted that had the change of hotels been made subject to non-availability, it was the duty and responsibility of the travel company to inform the complainant well in advance but the travel company had not informed the complainant. Further, by providing the details of the tour in the last day, the travel company did not give the complainant the time to seek out or make any adjustments to the same in consultation with the travel company. Considering the above, we are of the view that the travel company is deficient in providing service to the complainant causing him inconvenience and hardships."
"...keeping in view the fact that complainant is aged above 75 years and was travelling along with his two grandchildren, the compensation granted by the state commission is just and proper. And the state commission has passed a just and well-reasoned Order, which does not call for any interference by this Commission," NCDRC says.
Jaipur-based Devraj Beharnani had booked a travel package with MakeMyTrip to visit Jakarta, Bali and Singapore for himself and his grandchildren from 17 June 2012 to 26 June 2012 and after that for himself to stay in Singapore up to 2 July 2012. The tour package included obtaining necessary visas, air tickets and reservation of accommodation in hotels, pick and drop facilities, one veg and two non-veg meals, sightseeing, and his travel insurance policy. Mr Beharnani paid Rs4.50 lakh to MakeMyTrip for the tour package.
Mr Beharnani alleged that MakeMyTrip had not provided the travel itinerary, hotel booking chart, check-out time for hotels, tickets for flights, and travel insurance policy well within time intentionally. "It is only on the evening of 16 June 2012, MakeMyTrip provided the details regarding reservation, accommodation and other facilities and on 17 June 2012 in the early morning, my grandchildren and I had to leave for Delhi for an onward tour."
Further, instead of booking the tickets in direct flights, MakeMyTrip changed the route and booked the tickets on double hopping flight of Air Asia from Singapore to Jakarta, requiring a change of aircraft first at Singapore for Bali and then at Bali for Jakarta with the whole day in transit, Mr Beharnani says, adding, "As the flight from Singapore to Jakarta was indefinitely delayed, I and my grandchildren were asked to wait at Singapore Airport for at least five to six hours. We were not supposed to wait at Singapore Airport for an indefinite time. I purchased three new tickets at 250 Singapore dollars for each ticket, totalling 750 Singapore dollars, which is equivalent to Indian Rs33,000."
Mr Beharnani also alleged that MakeMyTrip changed their hotel accommodations in Jakarta, Bali and Singapore.
When he filed a complaint, MakeMyTrip sent him an email informing him that Rs1,62,681 would be refunded within seven days by crediting the same to his credit card account. However, no money was refunded by MakeMyTrip till Mr Beharnani filed a complaint before the state commission.
He sought a refund of Rs4.50 lakh with an interest at 18%pa (per annum), Rs50 lakh compensation for monetary loss as also for physical and mental agony and Rs66,000 litigation costs.
MakeMyTrip, in its written statement before the state commission, stated that the complaint is not maintainable under the eye of the law and the state commission does not have the jurisdiction to deal with this matter as the courts of the national capital region (NCR) Delhi have the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the dispute. MakeMyTrip stated that the delay of five to six hours at Singapore airport pertains to the operational issue of the airline company and it has no control over such unwarranted delay. "There was only a two-hour break in the journey, which was not a big issue and the travel company acted as a booking agent; therefore, the liability cannot be vested upon it."
While allowing the complaint, the Rajasthan state commission directed MakeMyTrip to pay Rs2 lakh compensation for deficiency in service along with Rs21,000 as litigation costs.
Aggrieved by the state commission's order, MakeMyTrip filed an appeal before NCDRC.
The counsel for MakeMyTrip argued that Rajasthan state commission had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the complaint as the travel company had neither carried its business within the vicinity of Jaipur nor had the cause of action arisen at Jaipur. He further argued that MakeMyTrip is only a facilitator and acts as an agent and not a service provider; hence, it is not responsible for flight operations. He further submitted that, as per the itinerary, the names of the hotels provided to Mr Beharnani were proposed hotels and subject to availability, and the rooms were not available; therefore, the accommodation was provided in other hotels.
Ramlal, the manager of Mr Beharnani, submitted that the travel package was booked at the Jaipur office of MakeMyTrip; therefore, the cause of action arose at Jaipur. He further submitted that due to mismanagement and irresponsible attitude on the part of MakeMyTrip, Mr Beharnani had spent extra money on hotels. He further argued that MakeMyTrip is an internationally renowned tour organiser; therefore, its duty is to make foolproof arrangements so that no inconvenience would be caused to Mr Beharnani but delay and confusion in getting the rooms in hotels, keeping facsimile of his credit card, hopping flights in place of direct flights have caused unnecessary physical and mental agony.
After perusing the documents on record, NCDRC noted that since the package was booked from the Jaipur office of MakeMyTrip and Mr Beharnani is also a resident of the same city, the Rajasthan state commission has territorial jurisdiction to deal with the complaint.
The bench also referred to an email sent by Mr Beharnani to MakeMyTrip on 15 June 2012 and a reply received on 16 June 2012 from the travel company. "It is apparent that all the details of the flights and the proposed hotels and vouchers had not been provided well in advance. The mail sent by the executive staff of MakeMyTrip also reflects that the travel company had not provided all the details of the hotel voucher, transfer vouchers and the sightseeing voucher well in time prior to the departure, which was on 17 June 2012."
Dismissing the appeal as devoid of merit, NCDRC asked MakeMyTrip to pay Mr Beharnani Rs2 lakh compensation and Rs21,000 as litigation costs as awarded by the Rajasthan state commission.
(First Appeal No236 of 2018 Date: 22 January 2024)