New Delhi: Five-star hotels charging exorbitant rate for food items like bananas and eggs is ‘unfair trade practice’ and the government will seek explanations from them, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday.The minister asserted that provisions will also be made while framing rules and regulations under the recently enacted Consumer Protection Act to crack down on such cases. Paswan was referring to a video that recently went viral in which actor Rahul Bose was seen complaining about five-star hotel JW Marriott, Chandigarh for billing two bananas for Rs 442. One more complaint of charging Rs 1,700 for two boiled eggs by another 5-star hotel has also gone viral on social media. “There are complaints and reports in social media and media about overcharging by some five-star hotels for items like bananas and eggs. This is a serious and unfortunate matter,” Paswan told reporters here. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The minister wondered how five-star hotels could charge Rs 442 for two bananas and Rs 1,700 for two eggs when these items were sold in the open market at very cheap rates. “How much they (hotels) will charge for services offered,” he quipped. Paswan said the department will seek explanations from the fiver-star hotels concerned on what basis they have charged such huge amounts. “We will not allow dual MRP (maximum retail price),” he said, adding that the government will make rules to check such practices under the Consumer Protection Act that was recently passed by Parliament. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KSpeaking on the sidelines after the minister’s press conference, Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava said, “Prima facie it is an unfair trade practice. As the minister has directed, we will seek explanations from these hotels.” He further said that action would be taken against such hotels if they are found indulging in such unfair practices. The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) had however defended JW Marriott, Chandigarh when the controversy broke out saying the hotel did not do anything “illegal” and asserted it did the right thing by charging 18 per cent GST on food and beverages served in the hotel premises. The FHRAI had argued that unlike a retail store where bananas could be purchased at market price, a hotel offers service, quality, plate, cutlery, accompaniment, sanitised fruit, ambience and luxury, and not just the commodity alone.
MONTREAL — A court has awarded a Quebec woman who was violently attacked by her longtime partner $315,000 in damages in a decision her lawyer hopes will provide victims of domestic violence another avenue to obtain justice.The woman, whose identity is not revealed in the court documents, testified that the attack took place while she was confined for three days in September 2012.Court documents says she was beaten and bruised by Craig O’Brien, with whom she had been in a common law relationship for seven years — a union that became increasingly toxic over time.O’Brien testified that he was extremely intoxicated and could not remember the extent of the injuries he inflicted, which included a broken finger, multiple contusions and lacerations. He also prevented her from eating, and she testified that she was certain she was going to die.She managed to escape when O’Brien went on the balcony to smoke, and she called police in the Montreal suburb of Laval.He pleaded guilty to charges including unlawful confinement, assault and aggravated assault. He was sentenced by a Quebec court judge to eight months in jail, serving just a few months.In 2015, the woman decided to sue for damages in Quebec Superior Court.“She was outraged that after everything that had been done to her, this fellow would only spend three months in jail,” said lawyer Daniel Romano. “She wanted justice. She wanted to be compensated for what she’d actually lost, and she wanted to serve as an example to other women.”In a decision dated Nov. 20, Justice Pierre Journet agreed she was entitled to compensation.While she’s now gone through counselling and has began rebuilding her life, the court ruling described the lasting psychological impact of the hold he had on her.The judge noted in his ruling O’Brien did not express remorse and instead argued his partner could have left if she had been fearful.“All of the violent assaults during these days left her with post-traumatic stress that still affects her,” Journet wrote.“He controlled her, satisfied his war-like instincts on her, threatened her with reprisals during their life together and wounded her in a savage and unforgivable assault.”Louise Riendeau, who heads an organization that represents shelters for abused women, said cases awarding damages are rare — she’s only heard of a handful in recent years.Not all women will have the resources to go to court, she said, but the ruling sends a strong message.“It’s a way for them to have recognized the hardship they went through,” she said. “It’s a way for women to retake power in those instances, to have the sentiment that they were victimized.”The damages include $113,000 plus interest to compensate for lost salary, dental benefits, pension contributions and to reimburse credit card debt from a card she’d let him use.O’Brien is ordered to pay an additional $125,000 in damages and $75,000 in punitive damages — $25,000 for each day she was unlawfully confined.“In this case, we wanted to set a very, very clear precedent,” Romano said. “We’ve accomplished that, it’s a very positive step forward.”Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press