Shah Ghouse, a popular restaurant in Hyderabad, was levied a heavy fine for overcharging a soft drink. For charging an extra Rs 4 on the soft drink, the restaurant was levied a fine of Rs 10,000.
The complaint was filed by anti-corruption activist Vijay Gopal. The fine of Rs 10,000 was inflicted by the Legal Metrology Department.
However, Mr Vijay argues that the fine levelled upon Shah Ghouse is less. He told The Logical Indian, “I don’t know why the restaurant which earns lakhs a day has been fined only Rs 10,000, instead of Rs 25,000 as per the rules. The decision is up to the discretion of the police authorities, and I was not entirely satisfied with the outcome as, according to the law, the fine is much higher. The authorities’ actions should have been discretionary, not whimsical.”
Mr Vijay’s next target will be malls and other restaurants. “I will file a criminal case under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and not just under the Legal Metrology Act if they don’t stop cheating customers. If you read the contents of Section 420, people can charge overpricing restaurants under the Section as well. Of course, one would not go to a police station over an issue of Rs 5 or Rs 10, but one should: this is a matter of principle and law, not money. We simply cannot allow the poor and the middle class to be exploited this way.”
This comes only a month after a similar incident in Hyderabad where Sarvi Hotel was asked to pay Rs 20,000 to a customer by the District Consumer District Redressal Forum-II for charging double rates for a bottle of mineral water on MRP.
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 Shah Ghouse 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 packed form at a price exceeding the retail sale price thereof.”
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.”
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.The Logical Indian takeThe Logical Indian 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.
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian 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.