The Assam Kaziranga University

The Guwahati Address hotel, located on Zoo Road in Guwahati, was fined Rs 15,000 by a consumer court on Wednesday for charging Rs 50 for a one-liter bottle of water that costs Rs 20.

The incident happened as a result of a lawsuit filed against the hotel by Guwahati lawyer Debabrat Saikia for overcharging for the water bottle.

Debabrat Saikia clarified that he didn’t sue Guwahati Address out of personal animosity but rather to raise awareness of the rights of regular people as consumers.

“Most people don’t even know that there is a consumer court. People get intimidated in these big establishments even when they ask for illogical prices. People just pay out of social pressure, there is a certain value to a certain commodity. These businesses exploit our silence,” Saikia told GPlus.

Saikia went to the Guwahati Address in 2021 for a scheduled meeting. He planned to order food and eat there, but an urgent situation forced him to leave early. However, out of politeness, he asked for a bottle of water. He was shocked to get a bill for Rs 59.

“They took Rs 50 for a bottle of water that’s MRP is Rs.20, MRP is inclusive of all taxes and over that they also took CGST and SGST of Rs. 4.50 respectively. I found it outrageous,” said the lawyer.

Debabrat Saikia won the case, and the Guwahati Address was ordered to pay him Rs. 15,000 as compensation for inflicting him mental anguish and engaging in unfair business practices.

However, the Guwahati Address management gave a wary reaction. Hotel general manager Debojit Roy remarked, “As per precedence, the Kerala HC and several other courts have clearly mentioned that the hotel industry is a service sector industry not a retail industry, we serve water, we do not sell it. Hence, expecting similar prices for the same product in a Hotel and a shop is not realistic. We are not satisfied with the ruling and we will definitely appeal further.”

The Assam Kaziranga University