The top court was hearing an appeal by ITC against an order that had reasoned that a bad haircut and hair treatment, which triggers mental trauma and jeopardises career prospects, amounts to negligence on the part of the salon.
The incidents in question took place in 2018.
The respondent Aashna Roy who was slated to appear for an interview, before which she went to the salon at Hotel ITC Maurya, New Delhi, on April 12, 2018 for a haircut. She asked for her regular hairdresser but since she was not available, another stylist was assigned.
The complainant had not been satisfied with the assigned hairdresser’s services in the past but on the assurance of the salon’s manager she agreed to give it a shot. Roy is stated to have specifically instructed the hairdresser for “long flicks/layers covering her face in the front and at the back and 4-inch straight hair trimmed from the bottom”.
It came on record that Roy was wearing high-power glasses and was requested by the hairdresser to keep her head constantly down, as a result, she alleged of not being able to see herself clearly in the mirror.
What according to her was a simple haircut, took over an hour, and Roy was in “utter shock” when she saw that the stylist had “chopped off her entire hair leaving only 4 inches from the top and barely touching to her shoulders”, which was against her instructions.
She thereafter complained about the stylist to the manager of the salon and was stated to have not been given any bill though the she would generally pay heavily.
Roy tried to reason with the senior officials at the hotel and learnt her hair had been sold off by the salon.
Subsequently, the hotel made an offer to do hair treatment free of cost to which Roy is said to have agreed after a lot of persuasion.
“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,” it came on record.
On May 3, 2018, when Roy is stated to have gone to the salon for the hair treatment, she was told that an in-house hairdresser would do the treatment under the supervision of her regular stylist. She agreed for it as the hotel staff reportedly convinced her that the in-house stylist was trained and very good at their work.
However, during the treatment, she said her hair and scalp were “completely damaged with excess ammonia and there was lot of irritation“.
Roy claimed that the hairdresser scratched and cut her scalp with nails on the pretext of massaging the scalp to open the hair cuticles.
She also claimed that her scalp was burnt after an ammonia-laden cream was applied on it. Only a hair spray provided her with a temporary respite.
Post treatment, she alleged her hair turned “hard and rough” in addition to an itchy and burnt scalp. She later tried to seek the assistance of the hotel staff in the matter but alleged that they were “abusive, rude and disrespectful” and she was threatened.
Roy stated that she even approached the management of ITC Group and Hotels in vain. She, therefore, filed the plea alleging deficiency in service on the part of opposite parties and sought written apology from the ITC Management besides ₹3 crore in compensation alleging harassment, humiliation and mental trauma.
The NCDRC awarded her ₹2 crores in September 2021 holding that owing to the haircut against Roy’s instructions, by the hotel’s salon, she lost her prospective assignments and “suffered a huge loss” that completely changed her lifestyle and “shattered her dream to be a top model”.
ITC Hotels were also held guilty of medical negligence in hair treatment.
The hotel then moved the top court challenging the same.