HYDERABAD: Suspending for now the decision of the TSRTC officials to allow only Bisleri water bottles at all its bus stations in Telangana, the Hyderabad High Court on Thursday allowed all the stall owners in the bus stations to sell all branded water bottles that are approved by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
The bench of acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Shameem Akther pronounced this interim order in an appeal filed by Jahed Bhasha of Hyderabad and scores of licensed shop owners who were aggrieved with the diktat of the authorities who are coercing them to sell only Bisleri brand water. RTC has been maintaining that it brought in the new method to reach out to the public who have been raising several complaints about the stall owners regarding the quality and price of the water. A single judge earlier found nothing wrong in this and allowed the RTC management to go ahead with its tie-up with Bisleri. Aggrieved by this, the shop keepers preferred an appeal over the single judge order.
C Ramachandra Raju, counsel for the licensed shop owners, during his arguments charged the higher authorities of TSRTC with entering into a nexus with Bisleri for enriching themselves through discreet methods. It will be a discriminatory approach if only a particular brand is allowed and other brands are denied entry, he said and added that this will deprive the passengers too to pick up their choice of water bottles. Moreover, this will allow the officials to increase the price of the water bottles and will eventually lead to a monopoly which should never be permitted, he said.
The bench found prima facie force in the argument of the licensees. The restraint order will be in force till a final judgment is pronounced in the case or till the life of the current licence period, the bench said.