During a statewide drive to catch retailers charging consumers more than the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) for aerated drinks, the legal metrology department registered 41 cases, of which 19 were filed against retailers in the city.
The department launched the special drive from May 22-28 following reports published in the Hindustan Times on May 20 and 21 on MRP violations on sale of aerated drink bottles across the city.
“After learning about the increasing number of MRP violations through the Hindustan Times, we conducted special drive. In Mumbai alone, 19 cases were booked while 22 retailers were booked in other cities such as Pune, Nagpur and Nashik,” said Maadhava Saanap, controller, Maharashtra state legal metrology department.
During the drive, major violations were found at general stores, hospital canteens, bus depots, multiplexes and university canteens, where retailers overcharged those who bought aerated drinks.
Retailers claimed they charge Re1 to Rs3 more than the MRP to cover the refrigeration cost. But officials from the legal metrology department explained that retailers cannot charge separately for refrigeration as the MRP includes all central, state and civic taxes. Once the MRP is printed on the product, it is illegal to sell it at a higher price.
Saanap said that the department will continue to crack down on errant retailers. “Inspections are a continuous process but considering the increasing number of violations we will periodically conduct special drives,” he added.
All 41 cases are booked under the Legal Metrology Act 2009, (Package Commodities) rule 2011, wherein the offender will be charged compounding penalty of maximum Rs2,000.
“If the offender pays the compounding penalty within three months, the case will be closed, else it will be tried in the respective magistrate’s court,” said Saanap.
But, consumer activists feel the action is too little and too late. “Moreover, the department’s helpline — 22886666 — is hardly accessible. Our complaints are either not registered or the status of the case not informed to us,” said Chinmay Gavankar, founder-member of Jagruk Nagrik Sanga. “Even private companies should join the propaganda to fight against retailers charging more than the MRP.”