NEW DELHI: In a setback to consumers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday held that hotels and restaurants are not bound by the maximum retail price (MRP) when selling bottled mineral water.
A bench led by Justice R F Nariman held that the provisions of the Legal Metrology Act would not be applicable when selling bottled water at hotels and restaurants and no prosecution can be launched against them for selling the bottles above the MRP. “It is not a case of simple sale. Nobody goes to a hotel to buy or take away a bottle of mineral water,” he said.
The order is likely to have a direct impact on the selling of packed and other pre-packaged products, including alcohol.
The bench took note of the submissions made by the hotel association and said the composite elements of sale and service are present in hotels and restaurants where consumers also enjoy the ambience, invested into by these commercial establishments.
Rejecting the government’s argument that even a sale in hotels would require mandatory compliance with provisions of the Act and that there would be a fine and jail term for selling water above the MRP, the bench said: “Consumers who go to hotels also use other things available on the premises, which takes a lot of investment.”
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) against the Delhi High Court’s ruling.