A popular Hyderabad restaurant named Palamuru Grill has been charged with a Rs 10,000 penalty for overcharging on a water bottle and soft drink.
The restaurant overcharged customer and activist Vijay Gopal, breaking government-prescribed rules in the process.
The MRP of the soft drink was Rs 18 but Mr Gopal was charged Rs 29 for it. Similarly, he was charged Rs 29 for a Rs 20 water bottle.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Mr Gopal said, “I went to the place on 17 May. They have been fined Rs 10,000 now. The only thing is that Rs 25,000 should have been the penalty for violating Section 36 of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 instead of the Legal Metrology Rules 18(2). The penalty can be up to Rs 50,000 and I will ensure that these guys are fined the same. It’s not about money – it’s about doing what’s right.”
What does the law say?
As per the Legal Metrology Rules, 2011, pre-packed commodity is a commodity without the purchaser being present. It is placed in a package of whatever nature whether opened or sealed. The commodity contained has a predetermined value and includes those goods which can be taken out of the package for examining or testing or inspecting the commodity. It is an offence if the dealer over charge it and the trader can also be prosecuted.
The Legal Metrology Department registered a case against Palamuru Grill restaurant for violation of Rule 18 (2) of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, which states: “No retail dealer or other person including manufacturer, packer, importer and wholesale dealer shall make any sale of any commodity in packaged form at a price exceeding the retail sale price thereof.”
Mr Gopal argues that Section 36(1) of the LegalMetrology Act and not Rule 18(2) befits these situations. According to Section 36(1) of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009, “Whoever manufactures, packs, imports, sells, distributes, delivers or otherwise transfers, offers, exposes or possesses for sale, or causes to be sold, distributed, delivered or otherwise transferred, offered, exposed for sale any pre-packaged commodity which does not conform to the declarations on the package as provided in this Act, shall be punished with fine which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees, for the second offence, with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees and for the subsequent offence, with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to one lakh rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with both.”
What does the Food and Consumer Affairs Minister say?
Furthermore, in his statement of October 2016, during World’s Standard Day, the Union Minister of Food and Consumer Affairs, Ram Vilas Paswan, had urged consumers to lodge a complain if packaged drinking water is sold above MRP at any location including hotels, cinemas and airports.
The minister further commented with reference to common consumer experiences at such locations, where packaged water was often sold at 10-20% higher than MRP. In fact, some cases of no MRP mentioned on the bottle, have also been reported.
Paswan said in October 2016, “Charging above MRP is violation of the law. But we still see at airports, multiplex and hotels, that packaged water is sold at more than the MRP. This needs to be stopped … We have sufficient powers to take action against violators and we will take if consumers file complaints in this regard. There is penalty and even jail term for violators.”
The Logical Indian take
This is not the first time that Vijay Gopal has taken it upon himself to ensure that the law is upheld. Only earlier this year, he filed a case against INOX Movies’ unfair trade practices and won the case. He also saw to it that restaurants that overcharge customers, schools that charged excess fees and eateries where service charge was illegally charged were fined for their excesses.
The Logical Indian community appreciates the actions of the Legal Metrology Department and requests every individual to be vigilant when buying any packaged product. If the shopkeeper charges you more than the MRP, then s/he can be prosecuted. We as citizens need to file more such cases and raise this issue so that restaurants stop overcharging their customers. Additionally, we thank Mr Gopal for his hard work and dutifulness in bringing this injustice to light and seeing to it that those responsible for cheating the public are made to face the law.