India: Legal Metrology Department Has No Powers To Impose Restrictions On Sale Of Unpackaged Food Items In Cinema Halls, Rules High Court

The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) and PVR Limited (PVR) (collectively, the Petitioners) challenged the following two orders issued by the Controller of Legal Metrology (Controller), an authority appointed under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 (Act), in Writ Petition No. 27029 of 2018 before the High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad.

  • Order No. 1033/T/2018, dated 17.07.2018 (First Order), issued under the Act, directed the cinema halls and multiplexes of Telangana to ensure that the vendors/shops situated in cinema theatres should indicate the net quantity of pre-packaged, as well as non-packaged products by affixing a sticker on the container and also showcase the same on the display board to indicate the weight, volume or measures. Additionally, a consumer helpline number should be displayed.
  • Order No. 1033/T/2018, dated 20.07.2018 (Second Order), directed the enforcing authorities to hold meetings with the multiplex and theatre owners, explaining to them that food items and soft drinks, etc. (unpackaged and packaged) should be sold by weight or volume which should be displayed on the display board along with relevant price. The Second Order further stated that the maximum retail price of the food item should be mandatorily printed on its container / package after 1 September 2018 before which it can be done by way of a sticker. Lastly, officers were directed to brief the owners to avoid keeping only one brand of bottled water and give options to the consumers.

First Order and Second Order are collectively referred to as the 'Orders'.

Submissions of the Petitioners

The Petitioners raised the following contentions:

  1. While the Rules require declaration of price, weight, etc. of a pre-packaged commodity and prohibit any retailer from selling any pre-packaged commodity unless it complies with the Act and the Rules, unpackaged food items (such as popcorn, samosas, nachos, sandwiches, burgers, vada pao, beverages and soft drinks which are sold in plastic glasses through fountains), unlike pre-packaged items (such as beverage cans, packaged chips, juice bottles, etc.), are not subject to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 (Rules).
  2. The Controller could not disregard the provisions of the Act and Rules which apply only to pre-packaged commodities, and in doing so, compel the Petitioners to follow the Orders issued in respect of unpackaged commodities also.
  3. Unpackaged food items were being sold with proper receipt/invoices and the rate list was being displayed on the board in a proper manner.
  4. An order dated 25.03.2014 was issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India, which had excluded 'open and unpacked items' sold by a particular multiplex chain, PVR, from the purview of the Act as they are covered in the exemption provided under Rule 26 of the Rules.
  5. The Orders had not been notified as per the requirement of Rule 30 of the State Legal Metrology (Enforcement) Rules, 2011 (State Rules).
  6. Further, the Second Order directing the owners to avoid keeping only one brand of water, etc., and giving options to the consumers was beyond the jurisdiction of the Controller; and in apparent conflict with the fundamental right of the members of MAI and PVR to carry on trade and business guaranteed by Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

Submissions of the Controller

The Controller raised the following contentions:

  1. The impugned Orders were issued covering both unpackaged and packaged commodities, and that they are well within the ambit of the powers and provisions of the Act and the Rules made under it, especially Rule 26.
  2. Under a government order (Ref: G.O.M. No.9), the Legal Metrology Department had been designated as agents to take up activity relating to consumer affairs under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and to register cases to curb unfair or restrictive trade practices. Since the members of MAI were carrying on business by selling unpackaged items without declaring the actual weight or measure of the commodity contained in the container, it became necessary to safeguard the interests of the consumers.
  3. The exemption order of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs is merely clarificatory in nature, and that it would not operate to exempt unpackaged items from the purview of the Act.
  4. The requirement of issuing any notification does not exist under Rule 30 of the State Rules, since the provisions of the Act have been reiterated in the Controller's Orders.


The Court held that the orders issued by the Controller were ultra vires of his powers under the Act and the Rules, and clearly a colourable exercise of power. The Court examined the definition of pre-packaged commodity in Section 2(1) of the Act and held that the same necessarily excludes items sold in an unpackaged form.

With respect to the Controller's contention regarding G.O.M No. 9, the Court held that the said government order refers to demand of service charges in lieu of tips by certain hotels and restaurants in the State of Telangana as a compulsory charge apart from the service tax and is therefore confined to preventing restrictive trade practice of restaurants and hotels collecting compulsory service charge in addition to service tax, and not to anything else.

The Court therefore held that it is beyond jurisdiction of the Controller to not only insist on affixture of sticker on non-packaged food items indicating net quantity, MRP and consumer helpline details, but also to issue a direction that owners to avoid keeping only one brand of water, etc., and give options to the consumer.

The Court, however, directed the members of MAI and PVR to display prominently at the points of sale of the non-packaged commodities – on the menu boards; the price per standard unit of weight or measures or numerals or multiples thereof; and also display or indicate the details of the commodity, net weight or measure or numerals as per the prescribed standard unit along with the rate at which it is sold, in the sales invoice or bill.


The order of the Court, as well as the interpretation of provisions of the Act and the Rules, are likely to not only benefit multiplex cinema operators, but also other businesses which sell unpackaged food items against any possible action by the legal metrology department on similar lines. It is also noteworthy that the Court upheld the proposition of law that the Government and its officers cannot go beyond its jurisdiction and interfere with the fundamental right to carry on trade or business guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

The content of this document do not necessarily reflect the views/position of Khaitan & Co but remain solely those of the author(s). For any further queries or follow up please contact Khaitan & Co at

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions