Meet the JU Law Student who is taking Coca-Cola and Domino’s to court

Puneet Gupta

If you love pizzas, you are definitely familiar with the name of Domino’s Pizza. Jubilant Foodworks limited is an Indian company based in Noida, Uttar Pradesh which holds the master franchise for Domino’s Pizza in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and also for Dunkin’ Donuts in India.

Ever noticed how you get only coke (coca-cola) at Domino’s Pizza and none of the other products by the beverages company? If you have recently visited Domino’s Pizza and ordered a coke pet bottle along with your order, you may have noticed that the MRP on the 600ml pet-bottle is Rs 55. The same pet-bottle in the market that offers the same volume is marked with an MRP of Rs 35, a staggering difference of Rs 20.

Over-priced Coca Cola

The Problem

Assume that the Bahu Plaza outlet in Jammu sees 500 consumers in a day (they easily see a much higher footfall on weekends).

This means that Domino’s Pizza at Bahu Plaza in association with Coca-cola makes at least Rs 4,000 extra in a day (considering only 200 out of 500 bought the coke bottles). Rs. 4,000 x 30 = 1,20,000 just from the increased Rs. 20. This is a pan-India practice. Imagine the crores both Coca-cola and Domino’s make out of this arrangement and they shall continue to do so because there is no law at present which can curb this practice.

Meet Deepak Mahajan

Deepak Mahajan, Law Student University of Jammu
Deepak Mahajan is a 5th-semester law student of University of Jammu. He noticed this change in pricing for same product that is available for cheaper in the market and has filed a case in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum at Jammu. The Consumer Forum keeping under the purview of J&K Consumer Protection Act has sent notices to the following:

-Jubilant Foodworks Limited (Domino’s Pizza India Limited) Gautam Budh Nagar, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

-Jubilant Foodworks Limited (Domino’s Pizza), Canal Road, Jammu, India

-Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, USA

-Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited, Mayapuri Industrial Area, New Delhi, India

-Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Limited, IFCA BOTTLING Co.LTD. New Industrial EXTN.AREA, Gangyal, Jammu (Tawi), India

Deepak says, “Different MRPs of same and similar situated product is irrational, unjust, illegal and unfair. Moreover, it leads to unfair trade practice and deficiency of services on their part. Deepak has prayed before the consumer forum to direct the opposite party(s) to stop the unethical trade practice and pay compensation of 5lacs to the complaint.”

Consumer forum has warned the opposite parties that in case of their non- appearance on the next date – 7/12/2015- fixed, matter would be taken, in exparte.

Deepak Mahajan presently has only taken up the case against the malpractice in Jammu, but if prevailed upon, this will have repercussions pan-India since all the Domino’s Pizza outlets sell the over-priced bottles.

Though the summons sent to the above parties is only the beginning of a very long legal battle, a start by a Student belonging to Jammu is definitely a reason for hope. It only goes to showing that people in small cities such as Jammu are also becoming aware of their rights. U4UVoice congratulates Deepak Mahajan and wishes him all the best for this mammoth task that he has taken up for the good of the common man.

What the Legal Metrology Department has to say

U4UVoice met the Jammu LMD Joint Controller – Amar Singh as well as Deputy Controller – Manoj Prabhakar to inquire about the allowance of the skewed MRP in this case.

Deputy Controller, Mr. Prabhakar clarified that there are already cases registered against Domino’s Pizza and Coca-cola for the differing prices. He said, “In past as well this issue has come to our notice and we have appealed to the court for the same. At present, Coca-Cola and Domino’s Pizza both are in a corporate agreement to avail this benefit wherein a judgement has been passed in their favour. According to the agreement, these overpriced bottles cannot be sold in open market and their sales is limited to only outlets of Domino’s Pizza. ”

Mr. Singh, the Joint Controller added, “The matter is already known to Ministry of consumer affairs and such Corporate arrangements, which are practiced by many companies today are under scrutiny. Since, the practice of overpricing only at select outlets and not in the open market is new, the legal aspects are being analysed and once this loop-hole can be legally closed by law, a bill will be tabled in due course of time in the assembly and the practice should then see its end.”

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