According to the Telangana State Consumer Organisation over 4700 cases are still pending.

Overcharging of bottled water continues in Hyderabad authorities say they lack staff
news Consumer Rights Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 15:38

Despite the Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan announcing that bottled water will be sold at the same maximum retail price (MRP) across all platforms, activists say that almost all the malls in Hyderabad has been practicing dual MRP. 

“Almost all the malls in Hyderabad has been either charging more than MRP or practicing dual MRPs. This is not only unethical but also illegal,” says Vijay Gopal, a Hyderabad-based corruption activist. 

Vijay had earlier filed a complaint against INOX multiplex for overcharging for water bottle. Recently, the Hyderabad Consumer Forum has asked INOX multiplex to pay up Rs 5,000, along with another Rs 1,000 to an activist, and reportedly said that there cannot be two MRPs for the same water bottle. 

“Even though it is illegal, all the malls has been continuing this unfair trade practice. Also now that people are getting to know their rights and have been filing complaint. This has hardly changed anything,” he added. 

Shortage of staff in state consumer forum

The president of the Telangana State Consumer Organisation has said that the main reason these issues still persist is because of shortage of staff in the Telangana State Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum and Legal Metrology department. 

According to The Hindu, the Civil Supplies Commissioner has said that interviews have been conducted for the vacant 10 District Consumer Forums and soon they would issue appointment orders too.

“There is just one inspection officer in each district in the vigilant department in Legal Metrology. It is not possible for one officer to monitor the whole district,” says Srinivas Loksatha, president of the organisation. 

He says that after the bifurcation, the state government has not yet appointed district consumer forum presidents and members in the state. “Out of the 12 consumer forums, there are only two presidents (judge). For the past two years the Civil Supplies department has been saying that they will fill up the vacancy, but nothing has been done," he added. 

Due to the acute shortage of presidents last year, over 1000 cases were registered, but less than 200 cases were settled.

Pending cases 

The Department of Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs conducted raids in 182 city restaurants, multiplexes and malls in March.  46 outlets were found to be charging more than MRP and were fined Rs 2,000, apart from a case being registered against them. 

“This is not enough. Because these cases will be dragged for several months, even years. I filed the case on Inox almost a nine months back,” Vijay says.

 According to the Telangana State Consumer Organisation, which fights for the rights of consumers, over 4700 cases are still pending for judgement, out of which 60% of the cases have been pending for more than four years. 

“According to rules, consumer forums in the state should dispose cases within the stipulated 90 days. However, several cases have been pending for years. This itself is a violation of rule,” says Srinivas Loksatha, president of the organisation. 



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