Bhubaneswar restaurant pays Rs 3000 compensation for charging more than MRP on water bottles

Bhubaneswar: Risha Mohanty, a law student at University Law College in Bhubaneswar was awarded Rs 3000 compensation as she was charged Rs 20 more than the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) printed on mineral water bottles.

Risha Mohanty was awarded the compensation by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Khurda.

Risha Mohanty had gone to Four Petals restaurant by Varenya’s along with her family to have lunch on January 21, 2022. While having their food, Risha’s family members were served with bottled mineral water, where the MRP was printed as Rs 20, even though they asked for normal water.

Sometime later, the family ordered two bottles. However, they were charged Rs 40 per bottle at the final billing, which was double of the price printed on the bottles.

Risha Mohanty objected to the hotel’s decision to charge more than the MRP. However, after she did not get any positive response, Risha filed a complaint against the restaurant claiming refund of the excess amount charged. She also demanded a compensation of Rs 20,000 towards mental agony and litigation cost.

While hearing the case, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held that charging beyond the printed MRP in the name of providing amenities and services is not justified and amounts to unfair trade practice.

“It is important to note that Maximum Retail Price (MRP) is the higher price at which, product can be sold. According to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, no retail dealer or other person including manufacturer, importer and wholesale dealer shall make any sale of any commodity in packed form at a price exceeding the retail sale price thereof. This aforesaid rule covers all retail dealers and other persons and does not exclude hoteliers or restaurants,” said the Commission

On the other hand, the restaurant contended that before placing the order, the complainant was supplied with the menu card. The price of every single item including the water bottle was clearly mentioned in the menu, it said.

It was further contended that the restaurant provides numerous other services which the customer enjoys without paying for that. The restaurant said it cannot be held liable for charging price in excess of the MRP.

In order to justify its argument, the restaurant relied upon the case of Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India v. Union of India & Ors., wherein it was observed that “charging prices for mineral water in excess of MRP printed on the packaging, during the service of customers in hotels and restaurants does not violate any of the provision of the SWM [Standards of Weights and Measures] Act as this does not constitute a sale or transfer of those commodities by the hotelier or restaurateur to its customers.”

However, the Commission said the restaurants cannot charge more than the MRP as same will be a sheer violation of the settled provisions of law. After perusing the ruling in Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India, the Commission observed, “It is a settled position of law that a court of law cannot override a legal legislation. Also, there are judgments of Hon’ble NCDRC and SCDRC wherein, it is held that there cannot be two MRPs except in accordance with the law. A service provider cannot charge an amount more than the MRP.”

Accordingly, the Commission directed the restaurant to pay Rs 2,000 to the complainant towards mental harassment caused to Risha Mohanty along with Rs 1000 towards the cost of litigation.

(with inputs from livelaw.in)

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