SC upholds Rs 62 lakh compensation in drowning incident
The lifeguard was not present when a person died due to drowning at a swimming pool of a hotel. The lifeguard was assigned another duty, to serve liquor in the bar. The Supreme Court held that there was serious lapse on the part of the hotel management. The court upheld the compensation of Rs 62 lakh awarded by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
It happened more than 12 years back when a person from Delhi staying at a hotel owned by Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) in Thiruvananthapuram died of drowning. The lifeguard on duty was absent on the day when the unfortunate incident happened. He was entrusted with another duty in the bar of the hotel, to serve liquor.
The findings of the Commission was challenged in the Supreme Court by the hotel management. The SC, after evaluating the facts and evidences, came to the conclusion that it was an admitted position of fact that the lifeguard on duty had also to function as barman. When the drowning happened, it was a foreigner staying in the hotel who rescued the person but by the time he reached the hospital he was pronounced dead.
The SC held that there was breach of duty on the part of the hotel management. When the hotel had made available the facility of a swimming pool, the management should have provided a lifeguard who would perform the duty only in that capacity. A lifeguard should never be assigned other duties.
The findings of the commission of negligence of service has been fully justified by the SC. The wife of the deceased had approached the Commission for compensation.
The duty of care arises from the fact that unless the swimming pool is properly maintained of safe conditions and supervised by trained persons it will be a potential source of hazard and danger, the SC observed.