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Can’t have different MRP for same quantity, quality product in same region: Consumer Commission India

New Delhi: In a historical sequence, Karnataka State Consumer Commission It has been held that a manufacturer of a packaged commodity cannot levy two different MRPs on a product of the same quantity and quality in the same geographical area. Upholding the Bengaluru District Commission’s decision against PepsiCo, the state commission has imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the multinational company.

The state commission had recently passed the order after the multinational company challenged the district commission’s order, which had termed the printing of two MRPs for the same product as “unfair trade practice”.

The case was originally filed in 2010 by five students of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru when he was studying “unfair trade practice” under the Consumer Protection Act. Aditya Banwar, who was a student and fought the case in the district commission on behalf of the students, told TOI, “Two students went to a mall and bought different drinks of the same company and of the same quantity – from a shop. One set from the mall and the other from the food court. They brought them to class and showed how the printed MRPs differed. We decided to register a case and we also presented those bottles before the district commission.”

In May 2010 two students of NLSIU went to Minister Mal and bought one liter of packaged drinking water, a can of cold drink and 350 ml bottle of lemon drink which cost them Rs. 20, Rs. 50 and Rs. 50 respectively. But when they bought the same goods from World Supermarket, their cost was Rs.15, Rs.25 and Rs.15 respectively. The students had lodged a complaint that there was a violation at the manufacturer’s level. He also cited that there was no warning on the product or bill that a certain similar product was available at a cheaper rate at other retail outlets.

The Consumer Commission has held that printing different MRPs for the same material without any change in content or quantity was “nothing but unfair trade practice”. It had directed the company to stop printing different MRPs on the same material sold at different places and also to pay Rs 5,000 as compensation to the complainants. It had also directed him to pay Rs 2,000 for filing the suit.

In 2011, the company challenged the order in the state commission and 11 years later, the commission passed the order rejecting the application. The member bench said it did not find any error or omission in the order passed by the district commission and “there is no scope to interfere with the order passed by the forum”.

“The issue is not the amount of compensation, but the principle that no MNC can take advantage of consumers and indulge in unfair trade practices,” Ashwini Obuleshwho was one of the complainants and currently practices as an advocate in the Karnataka High Court.

Banwar hoped that the order would set a precedent for preventing manufacturers from printing different MPRs on the same product. “After the government cracked down on sellers charging more than the MRP, manufacturers were printing different prices for the same product to circumvent legal provisions. Now this too should be stopped,” he said.

Source: Times Of India