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Hotels to continue selling bottled water above MRP as SC junks Govt’s plea



New Delhi: Hotels and restaurants can continue to charge more than the maximum retail price (MRP) for bottled water.

The Supreme Court has shot down the central government’s plea to reconsider its judgment that had allowed hotels and restaurants to sell bottled water above MRP.

A bench of Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Navin Sinha found no merit in the plea by the Consumer Affairs Ministry and said the government has failed to make out any ground to modify the December judgment.

“Having carefully gone through the review petitions, the order under challenge and the papers annexed therewith, we are satisfied that there is no error apparent on the face of the record, warranting reconsideration of the order impugned. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” held the top court in an order on Thursday.

With this dismissal, the Supreme Court has clarified once again that no prosecution can be launched against any such establishment for selling bottled water, and also perhaps other packaged products, at a price higher than the MRP.

Days after the Court verdict, Consumer Affiars Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had made it clear that the government would urge the apex court to review its decision.

However, after the rejection of the plea, the only legal recourse available to the government now is to file a curative petition, most of which are usually dismissed by the Court.

Alternatively, the government can opt to change the pertinent laws, redefine ‘sale’ clearly so as to bring bottled water and other packaged products under the ambit of ‘sale’ and MRP even in hotels and restaurants.

In its December judgment, the bench had also cited the lacuna in the legal regime, by virtue of which, hotels and restaurants were not bound by MRP for selling bottled water.

It had highlighted that the laws were such that “composite indivisible agreements for supply of services and food and drinks would not come within the purview of the Legal Metrology Act”.

Neither the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 read with the enactment of 1985, nor 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,” it had then held, while allowing the appeal filed by the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI).

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