Civic body's canteen charges above MRP

Published: 06 December, 2013 03:04 IST | Tahasin Atar |

Canteen located in Balgandharva Rang Mandir levies an extra Rs 5 on packaged products, to make up for the rent paid to Pune Municipal Corporation

The maximum retail price (MRP) legislation was introduced to protect consumers from unscrupulous traders looking to make a quick buck. But in a shocking revelation, it has come to lightthat a Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) canteen contractor isselling packaged products above the MRP and getting away with it.

Rip-off: Canteen run by PMC at Balgandharva Rang Mandir is overcharging customers

The canteen situated in the premises of Balgandharva Rang Mandir charges an additional Rs 5 over the printed MRP on all packaged products like cold drinks and chips. As a result of this malpractice, customers visiting the canteen are forced to shell out extra money in a blatant rip off.

While the bottled drink shows Rs 20, it’s being sold for Rs 25, as seen in the receipt. Pics/Krunal Gosavi

Moreover, when questioned about the overcharging, the canteen contractor said that all the civic canteens in the city are indulging in a similar practice to recover the high cost of rent paid to the civic body. “All PMC canteens in the city charge extra money from their customers, as we have to recover the huge rent we pay to PMC,” said Raju Shetty, Balgandharva Rang Mandir canteen contractor. The increased prices are also printed on the menu card of the canteen.

Also surprising is the fact that a PMC office is situated in the same premises and yet no action has been taken against this illegal practice by the authorities. Bharat Kumavat, chief manager, PMC cultural department, while speaking on this matter, said that they have no clue about such a practice in the PMC canteens. “We have no idea about such a practice.

No one has come to us with such a complaint before,” he said.“The PMC canteens are rented on contract basis and the owners fix the rates of the products,” he added. He further remarked that even the canteens run by the railway department and the state transport department charge extra money on products over and above their MRP.

Cancel licence
“The contract of such canteens should be cancelled, as this is an illegal practice. The PMC authorities should take action in this matter,” said Vivek Velankar, Sajag Nagarik Manch, after the matter was brought to his notice.

Meanwhile, officials at the District Legal Metrology Department (LMD) have expressed their inability to take action against hotels and restaurants in the city that are selling food items above their MRP, claiming that their jurisdiction is limited to the retailers. “LMD officials have the authority to book and take legal action against shopkeepers who are found charging customers above the MRP of the product,” said H S Chate, assistant controller, LMD.

“A Delhi High Court directive has relieved hotels from checks and investigations, stating that they are service providers and therefore can’t come under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009.” he added.

The PMC has eight canteens in the city, of which six are leased out while two are being run on a contractual basis.

Did you know?
The Consumer Goods (Mandatory Printing of Cost of Production and Maximum Retail Price) Act, 2006, makes it mandatory for manufacturers to print the cost of production and the maximum retail price (MRP) on the pack, along with other details. The MRP is usually 10-30 per cent higher than the actual price of the product, as the seller’s margin is built into it. And one certainly cannot charge more than the MRP.

What does the rule say?
The rule states that: “Under the Standards of Weights & Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977 besides other provisions one condition is that no dealer/ wholesaler/purchaser can sell any item for a price more than the MRP mentioned in the packaged commodity. In case of any violation the person can be prosecuted in the Court.” 

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