Consumer can’t be forced to buy water bottle; as per Law, says Advocate Jagga

 Chandigarh, July 27

In a letter written to V P Kavle, IAS, Secretary, Consumer Affairs, UT Chandigarh, Advocate Jagga, Ex-member, Distt Consumer Protection Council, UT said that it is a very important issue regarding protection of consumer rights, as guaranteed under law, and added, in Chandigarh, as at present there is an unethical/unfair practice is going on, where eateries (not all) are refusing to serve free drinking/potable water to its patrons and asking them to buy packaged drinking water bottle.

Advocate Jagga said further, to check this, on visiting a small restaurant in inner market of sector 35, Chandigarh, it was found that they refused to serve free drinking water on the pretext that they don’t have potable water and thus forcing their patrons to buy water bottle. They simply refuse to serve the portable/drinking, which is shocking, Jagga added in the letter.

ON asking what is the price of one litre mineral water, it was conveyed that price is 30/-. When contested the price on the ground that the price of water bottle is Rs. 20/-, they conveyed that this is the special price printed on the bottles purchased by restaurants. On checking it was found that actually the water bottle of restaurant has printed price of  Rs. 30/- instead of normal printed MRP Rs. 20/-., Jagga said.

The significant point is that the consumer/patron could choose to buy packed drinking water even if there is potable water for various reasons, however that’s customer’s prerogative. But to be pushed into a corner and be left with no choice but to buy packaged drinking water water goes against a legal requirement and unfair trade practice, under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Infact, giving a customer no choice except to purchase mineral water bottle (rather bottled drinking water) means an arbitrary way to make money, he added.

Now, the question arises, can restaurants refuse to serve normal filter water?

The answer is ‘NO’ as it is mandatory to have potable water for all eateries, under the terms of licence of the Food Safety Authorities. Under the FOOD SAFETY AND STANDARDS (LICENSING AND REGISTRATION OF FOOD BUSINESSES), REGULATIONS 2011, it is mandatory requirement that every food business operator must have potable water.

Jagga said that hence, it is humbly prayed that an advisory should be issued in UT Chandigarh, after perusal, that eateries cannot force consumers to buy packaged drinking water and must offer free drinking water. Admission of any eatery/restaurant that they don’t have potable/drinking water, means their food license should be cancelled, as they don’t qualify for food licence, as per the regulation.

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