It’s the moral police versus the gig economy again. An Oyo hotel in Jaipur stopped an interfaith couple from checking in, explicitly denying them service for being of different religious persuasions (as assumed from their names, presumably). According to a news report, the manager of Oyo’s SilverKey hotels said, bizarrely, that they don’t allow couples of different religions to stay at the property. This, he claimed, was not just the hotel’s policy, but also in accordance with instructions from the police (which have denied issuing any such thing).

What is heartening here is the response of Oyo Rooms and Hotels. The aggregator app that allows customers to book rooms at various properties has offered a prompt apology to the couple and initiated a probe of the manager’s actions. It has issued a statement saying that it does not tolerate any form of discrimination on the premises of the establishments it has enlisted.

A swift reiteration of its principles was well done, but Oyo still needs to enforce its guidelines more strictly. In its frenetic quest for growth, it must not sign up hotels and inns that do not meet modern expectations of hospitality. The latest funding round led by its founder Ritesh Agarwal values Oyo at a whopping $10 billion. The company already has a presence in at least 80 countries. But a single bad customer experience could snowball into an image crisis—as happened once with Uber. Yet, there is also a broader issue at stake here. Does the writ of the Constitution run in the country, or will clerks at check-in counters get to decide who one can stay with?

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