MUMBAI: The High Court here has on Wednesday questioned the circular released by the Railway authority last year, mandating for the sale of only one brand of mineral water in the Railway stations across India. Accordingly, the Bombay High court has directed the IRCTC and the Indian Railways to file a counter to the petition filed by commuter Lopesh Vora, challenging the sale of only one brand of mineral water in the Railway stalls.
Petitioner Vora claimed that it is not a clean practice to force a brand on customers, without their choice of interest. He questioned that when there are other brands of food items available in the Railways stalls, why only ‘Rail Neer’ brand is maintained when it comes to the sale of ‘mineral water’.
Last year, the Railway authority had issued a circular to the Railways stalls and contractors to stock and sell only ‘Rail Neer’- a brand manufactured by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). However, the move was opposed by business organizations terming it as unhealthy business.
“Customers should have the right to choose the brand of mineral water he or she wants to purchase. Moreover, Rail Neer provides only 1-liter bottles unlike other brands like Bisleri, which also sells bottles in 500ml quantity. Even one does not know if the Rail Neer water is of good quality”, the petitioner said.
Hearing to the petition, a division bench headed by Justice NH Patil said “Indian Railways should allow mineral water of other brands to be sold in the stalls, just like food items from other brands. In any case, if the contention is that the IRCTC is facing loss then it may consider giving one bottle as complimentary with each ticket, to promote its sale”, the court said.
The Court has directed the Indian Railways and the IRCTC to consider the issues raised by the petitioner and to file a counter within a period of four weeks.