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Marriage hall asked to refund money for cancelled wedding

A district consumer forum has ordered the management of a marriage hall here to refund the money paid as advance booking by a customer for a wedding which was subsequently cancelled.

Thane District Consumer Redressal Forum president M Y Mankar and member N D Kadam, in their recent order held that the hall Gokhale Mangal Karyala at Naupada in Thane city was deficient in services and had adopted unfair trade practices.

Narayan D Bhole, a resident of Thane’s Kalyan township, had booked the hall on April 25, 2011, for the marriage of his daughter scheduled on June 26 that year, for which he paid Rs. 38,605, which included service tax and education cess etc, to the tune of Rs. 3,605.

However, as the marriage was cancelled due to certain reasons, on May 4, 2011, Bhole informed the hall management about it and sought a refund of the amount paid by him.

The management informed him that if someone else books the hall on the same date, they would return the money.

However, as there was no other booking for the same day, the complainant sought a refund of his payment, which was refused by the hall management citing its regulations.

The complainant then approached the consumer forum seeking refund of the advance paid by him.

The forum observed that the hall management had illegally retained the taxes that were to be paid to the government and had not provided any services to the complainant as the marriage was cancelled. Hence, it had indulged in unfair trade practices.

The management can at the most retain Rs. 5,000 of the amount paid by the complainant and refund the balance and also Rs. 5,000 towards legal charges, the forum ordered.

On the rules cited by the marriage hall management for cancellation of bookings, the forum noted the clause that under no condition the amount will be refunded is draconian and dictatorial and such a condition means resorting to unlawful trade practices.

Referring to famous Marathi proverb ‘Dushkalat Teravha’ (adding problem to the already existing problem), the forum hoped that the management would consider the circumstances for cancelling the booking and mental condition of parents who suffered due to cancellation of the wedding.

It further hoped that the marriage hall management would adopt a sympathetic view and accordingly decide while handling cases of refund.

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