Nothing wrong if hotels & restaurants overcharge for packaged mineral water, says SC

Can we do anything about it?

Have you ever been perturbed at the way often hotels and restaurants overcharge for a packaged mineral water bottle? How many times did the thought of dragging these hotel guys to consumer court cross your mind?

Well, it seems, you can do nothing about it. Really.

On Saturday, the country’s apex court said there’s nothing wrong in hotels and restaurants charging you above MRP for packaged mineral water.

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This is because overpricing of packaged water at hotels and restaurants doesn’t violate any law. In other words, there’s no existing law that can prevent such a sale.

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Supreme Court of India | PTI

According to legal news website Live Law, a bench of Justice RF Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha observed: neither the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 read with the enactment of 1985, or the Legal Metrology Act, 2009, would apply so as to interdict the sale of mineral water in hotels and restaurants at prices which are above the MRP.

The bench was hearing a petition of Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India.

In its order on Saturday, the apex court also upheld a 2007 Delhi High court judgement which had ruled that charging prices for mineral water in excess of MRP during the service of customers in hotels and restaurants does not constitute sale or transfer of these commodities by the hotelier or restaurateur to its customers.

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In other words, when a customer consumes packaged mineral water at hotel or a restaurant, it doesn’t come under the ambit of sale but service. Thus, the excess price.

“…The customer does not enter a hotel or a restaurant to make a simple purchase of these commodities. It may well be that a client would order nothing beyond a bottle of water or a beverage, but his direct purpose in doing so would clearly travel to enjoying the ambience available therein and incidentally to the ordering of any article for consumption. Can there by any justifiable reason for the Court or Commission to interdict the sale of bottled mineral water other than at a certain price, and ignore the relatively exorbitant charge for a cup of tea or coffee. The response to this rhetorical query cannot but be in the negative…,” the judgement by a single judge bench of Delhi High Court had said.