The apex consumer commission on Monday imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on a multiplex in Jaipur for selling packaged drinking water at more than maximum retail price and dismissed its plea challenging a state commission order penalising it.
A bench of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), presided by Justice J M Malik, dismissed the argument that the complainant had purchased the water bottle outside the multiplex at a lower MRP and filed a frivolous case.
"Keeping in view the facts and circumstances, we affirm the order passed by the fora below and impose further costs in the sum of Rs 5,00,000 on the petitioners (Big Cinemas and Reliance Media-Works Limited) because they must have made illegal enrichment by charging/extorting money from their customers...
"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," the NCDRC said.
The consumer commission further said it was not deciding whether there was any "unfair" trade practice on part of water manufacturer PepsiCo as they were not a party in the case and thus, no action can be initiated against them.
The NCDRC order came on an appeal filed against the State Consumer Commission decision directing the multiplex to pay Rs 14 to Jaipur resident Manoj Kumar, along with Rs 6,500 as compensation for mental agony and litigation costs.
According to the complaint, on August 11, 2012, Kumar 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.
Kumar further alleged that when he wanted to register a complaint in the log book, it was not provided to him.
The multiplex denied that its staff were rude to the complainant and claimed they had made adequate provision for free drinking water and visitors in the cinema hall were not forced to purchase the water bottle from the counter.