Why permit sale of only Rail Neer at stations, HC to Railways

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday sought to know from Indian Railways why sale of only one brand of mineral water is permitted at railway stations where different brands and varieties of food are available.

A division bench headed by Justice N H Patil was hearing a public interest litigation by commuter Lopesh Vora challenging a circular issued by railway authorities last year directing contractors and caterers having stalls on platforms and railway stations to stock and sell only 'Rail Neer' - packaged drinking water supplied by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

Vora in his petition claimed that a commuter should have the right to choose which brand water he or she wants to buy and consume.

"Rail Neer is available only in one litre bottles. While other brands like Bisleri have 500 ml bottles also. Why should one compulsorily buy a one litre bottle? Moreover one does not know if the Rail Neer water is of good quality," the petition said.

"If food of different brands and varieties are available at railway stations then why not water? You (railways) should allow other brands. If the railways' contention is that IRCTC is facing loss then one bottle of Rail Neer can be given complimentary with each ticket booked then people will be encouraged to buy it," the court said.

The high court has directed railways authorities and IRCTC to consider the contentions raised in the PIL and file their reply in four weeks.

Earlier another bench of the high court had dismissed a petition filed by the Indian Railway Caterer's Association challenging the circular.

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