• Posted by CERC India
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Lifestyle store fined for charging for paper carry bags

Pankaj and Sangeeta Chandgothia, residents of Chandigarh, were shopping at a Lifestyle store.  They were charged Rs. 5 for a paper cacarry bagrry bag. Nowhere in the shop was it mentioned that customers would be charged for carry bags. Though the amount was small, the couple felt the practice was unfair and complained to the District Forum.

In a landmark judgement, the Forum ruled in their favour and imposed a penalty of Rs. 13,000 on Lifestyle. Lifestyle International Pvt. Ltd. had contended that since plastic bags were banned, it had started providing paper bags, which were much costlier than plastic bags.

The Forum observed that banning of a product does not entitle the store to charge for its substitute. All shops were obliged to provide carry bags free of cost, as customers cannot be

expected to carry the items in their hands. The Forum also noted that the carry bags display a prominent advertisement of the store.


The Forum directed Lifestyle to deposit Rs. 10,000 in the Consumer Legal Aid account and to refund Rs. 5 to the complainants. Also, it had to pay the complainants Rs. 1,500 towards compensation for harassment and Rs. 1,500 towards litigation costs.

Point of law

All shops have to provide carry bags free of cost to customers to carry the items purchased.

[Source: The order of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-I, Chandigarh dated 3 January 2019 on Consumer Complaint No. 438/2018]


Did You Know

A bank was fined Rs. 10,000 for giving three years’ statements of an account holder to his wife without his consent. The customer dragged the bank to consumer court. He said that he was going through a matrimonial dispute in family court and his wife would use these statements to her advantage. The court concluded that the bank had not maintained the privacy of the account holder.


‘SMS alerts not the basis for determining liability’  

More than Rs. 2.40 lakh was withdrawn by fraudsters from the SBI NRE account of P.V. George in four days in March 2012. The withdrawals were made through ATMs at different places in Brazil, where he works. George filed a case against the bank seeking refund of the amount along with interest.


The trial court dismissed the case. However, the First Appellate Court held that that, since the withdrawals were unauthorized and made by third parties without using the debit card issued to the complainant, the bank was liable for the loss. The bank appealed to the High Court.

The Kerala High Court said that a bank could not be exonerated from liability simply because a customer had not responded promptly to the SMS alert sent by the bank. Every account holder may not be in the habit of checking SMS alerts at regular intervals. SMS alerts cannot be the basis for determining the liability of the customer. It was a bank’s duty to take necessary steps to prevent unauthorized withdrawals and create a safe electronic banking environment.


The High Court dismissed the appeal and directed the bank to refund the amount to George.

Point of law

A bank is liable for an unauthorized withdrawal even if the customer does not respond to an SMS alert.

[Source: The order of the Kerala High Court, Ernakulam dated 9 January 2019 on RSA No. 1087 of 2018]

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