In June 2017, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had approved the new rule for MRP of packaged goods, and the metrology officials will now conduct surprise checks at different public places. This new rule has come into force from January 1st 2018. According to this rule, packaged products cannot be sold with different price tags.
In Maharashtra, Vijay Sagar, consumer activist and president of Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat is trying to spread more awareness about this new rule by conducting meetings for social activists and requested citizens to complaint about dual MRP to local metrology officials. Arun Deshpande, chairman of Consumer Welfare Advisory Committee of Maharashtra, said that, the new rule should not remain only on paper. It should be implemented in right spirit. Consumers should complaint and if legal metrology officials do not act on these complaints then strict actions will be taken on them too. Further he added that, consumers can contact on the national consumer complaint cell, which will be then forwarded to the local LMD office.
The MRP Violators will be penalized under section 36 of the Legal Metrology Act. The violator will be charged Rs.25,000 fine for the first offence, Rs.50,000 for the second and Rs. 1 lakh for the third, which may also attract jail term.
According to the recent reports, Government has sent notification to the Supreme Court that, charging Packaged Drinking Waterbottle above MRP in Hotels and restaurants was an offence under the Legal Metrology Act and it would attract monetary penalties and even jail terms. According to the news article in The Economic Times, dated on Dec 13, 2017, The Supreme Court has rejected this argument by the Govt. and allowed Hotels and Restaurants to sell Packaged Drinking Water bottle more than the maximum retail price (MRP).
The court in its judgment said that, there are lot of other services provided by the Hotels and Restaurants. Thus, they cannot come under Legal Metrology Act. This judgment of SC was based on the special leave petition filed by the FHRAI.
Mr. Garish Oberoi, president of the FHRAI, said that, People do not come to the Hotels just to buy Packaged Drinking WaterBottle. There are other costs too involved in the Bill and there is a service that is rendered. The Act cannot be applicable to them.
Consumer affair Minister Mr Ramvilas Paswan declared a mission kind of thing (at least he showed it) against differential pricing been observed, especially in the Packaged Drinking Water. You can read this post for details. So, there was a great confusion over this issue in all the F & B industry as such. Most disturbed were the Hotel & Restaurant owners and Malls, who do sell Packaged Drinking Water at a higher price (Rs.40/- per litre in some cases). Some time after it was made clear that the Hotels can sell at higher price, if the drinks are served at the table, that is after the bottle seal is opened. Read this article
Now one more development…
Now, there seems to be an other development in this (or another confusion ?). According to this article, Govt seems to control the differential pricing within the state. It says that if someone observes two different prices for the same bottle of Packaged Drinking Water , the one with the lower price shall be considered as the Correct MRP. This seems to be an action against the Malls more in particular , where Packaged Drinking Water Producers were giving differently printed labeled bottles to them. Does it mean this ? probably yes. But still hotels will keep on enjoying higher rates.
The Law won’t be applicable to restaurants and Hotels !
Very recently, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that selling packaged drinking water above MRP could attract fine and a jail term. Read this article for details. Naturally, there was a lot of heat over this subject on the social media. Most important concerns were over.
Selling the water at exorbitant prices (Rs. 40/- per bottle !) at some of the Malls over the counter.
Hotels and Restaurants selling Packaged Drinking Water at premium prices.
While reading out some comments we came to know that Hotels or restaurants, when serving the Packaged Drinking Water to customers on their tables, they can charge prices above the MRP. This was cleared by the The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI).