A consumer disputes redressal commission in Tumakuru has imposed a ₹7,000 penalty on a restaurant for charging prices higher than the maximum retail price (MRP) on beverages, alongside Goods and Services Tax (GST). Nandeesh vs VaishaliDeluxe Comforts case was filed as [Nandeesh vs VaishaliDeluxe Comforts].
Legal Perspective: Breach of Legal Metrology Rules
In a ruling handed down by President GT Vijayalakshmi and members Kumara N and Nivedita Ravish, the restaurant was penalized in accordance with the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules. These regulations expressly forbid the sale of packaged goods at prices exceeding their retail price. Significantly, the commission clarified that these rules extend to restaurants as well.
Prohibition of Dual MRPs
The commission stressed that there cannot be two MRPs for a product unless allowed by the law. This implies that a service provider, including a restaurant, cannot charge more than the printed MRP.
Case Background: Overcharging for Bottled Water and Sprite
The complainant alleged that he was charged an amount beyond the MRP, coupled with a 5% GST, for a bottle of water and a bottle of Sprite, both originally priced at ₹20 each. Consequently, the total price per bottle was ₹24.14.
Penalties Imposed: Safeguarding Consumer Rights
In its ruling dated September 21, the commission considered the violation of the Legal Metrology Rules as an unfair trade practice committed by the restaurant. Furthermore, the commission took note of the restaurant’s failure to appear and defend its case, despite receiving legal notices.
As a result, the restaurant was held accountable for the inconvenience faced by the complainant. The commission ordered the restaurant to pay ₹3,000 in litigation expenses and ₹4,000 for the mental distress endured by the complainant.
This case serves as a reminder that businesses, including restaurants, are obligated to comply with legal standards and refrain from overcharging customers for products sold above their maximum retail prices, thereby safeguarding consumer rights and promoting fair trade practices.
Relevant Legal Framework: Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules
The judgment, based on the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, seeks to regulate the packaging and labeling of commodities, ensuring consumers are informed about the quantity, quality, and price of their purchases. These rules are designed to prevent unfair trade practices and uphold consumer interests.