Mumbai based Lawyer Abhishek Nashake went to Secret Spice Restaurant in Mulund with his sister on Saturday, 18th July. He did not have any complaints regarding the food. But what did upset him was the service charge. On a bill that should’ve cost him ₹486, he saw the amount totalled to ₹525 instead. The restaurant had levied a service charge of ₹39, which was 8% of the bill.
Unhappy with the restaurant’s policy, he took it up with the management. This lead to a heated argument, which later resulted in cops arriving at the restaurant and taking both parties to the local police station.
Nashake told the media, “Service charge is a deceptive nomenclature, and rarely do restaurants clarify the per cent levied in their menus, although it is mandated that they do. While I usually pay up when eating out, I decided to take up the issue this time because there was ambiguity in the menu and the management wasn’t forthcoming with an explanation.”
It is to be noted that the government regulates the service tax, which as of now is 14% of the 40% of your total amount. It however, has no part to play in the service charge levied by restaurants, which can vary between 5% to 20% at different places.
At the police station, Nashake and his sister, asked the cops to properly look into the matter and book the restaurant for what they believed was an offence. Eventually, a non-cognizable offence (NC) was registered. Mid-Day contacted lawyers who said that the NC can be converted into an FIR in a Magistrate Court. The police were initially confused under what offence to book the eatery and finally landed at section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), which can result in a fine or an imprisonment for up to 2 years or both.
In all likelihood this was probably the first such case to be registered in the city.
For better knowledge on service taxes & service charges, click here .