Costs of five lakh imposed upon Big Cinemas and Reliance Media-Works Ltd. for charging more than MRP of packaged drinking water

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): While dismissing a revision petition filed by a multiplex in Jaipur challenging the orders of District Forum and Rajasthan Consumer Commission, vide which the multiplex was directed to return the amount charged more than maximum retail price of packaged drinking water to the Complainant along with Rs 6,500 as compensation, NCDRC also imposed further costs of Rs five lakh upon the multiplex. Earlier, the complainant went to see a movie in Big Cinemas in Jaipur where he purchased a bottle of water for which he was charged Rs 30 whereas the MRP of the bottle was Rs 16. The complainant approached District Forum against Big Cinemas and Reliance Media-Works Ltd. Forum allowed the complaint and directed Big Cinemas and Reliance Media-Works Ltd. to pay an amount of Rs.14/-, recovered in excess from the Complainant, and also to pay Rs.5,000/-, for mental agony and compensation for financial loss and Rs.1,500/- for costs of the complaint. Aggrieved by that order, an appeal was preferred before the State Commission which was dismissed. Before NCDRC, Big Cinemas and Reliance Media-Works Ltd. filed revision petition alleging that the complainant had purchased the water bottle outside the multiplex at a lower MRP and filed a frivolous case. Said contention was rejected by the Commission, which noted, “They (cinema hall and owner) have nowhere stated that they have got two MRPs in the case of ‘Aquafina’ water bottle. They are conspicuously silent about it. The silence on their part is pernicious for the petitioners. The case against the petitioners stands fully proved.” While observing that Big Cinemas and Reliance Media-Works Ltd., “must have made illegal enrichment by charging /extorting money from their customers,” NCDRC affirmed the orders of District Forum and Rajasthan Consumer Commission and imposed further costs of Rs 5,00,000 upon them. While refusing to decide whether there was any “unfair” trade practice on part of water manufacturer PepsiCo, NCDRC noted that as PepsiCo was not a party in the case, no action can be initiated against PepsiCo. However, the Commission also warned PepsiCo to have one MRP on the same product at different outlets or otherwise, within the parameters of law. [Big Cinemas v. Manoj Kumar, 2016 SCC OnLine NCDRC 123, decided on February 01, 2016]

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