Class action lawsuit filed in New Delhi charges that plastic bag fees imposed by malls, department stores are illegal, claims they violate rules set by India's Ministry of Environment and Forests, is not authorized by municipalities

LOS ANGELES , February 21, 2012 () – A group of 23 people in India has filed a class action lawsuit in New Delhi against 12 malls, supermarts and others for plastic bag fees they claim are “illegally charged,” reported the Mumbai Mirror on Feb. 21.

The lawsuit, which was filed with the state Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, is scheduled to be heard on March 30.

Respondents in the case have been accused of unfair trade practices for requiring that shoppers pay for the carryout bags, allegedly without having the authority, the Mumbai Mirror reported.

The city’s municipal body, which would authorize the fees, has not determined a minimum price for the bags, thereby making it illegal for retailers to impose such a charge, according to the complaint.

Municipalities are accused of a “deficiency of service” for their part or lack of action in the bag fee scheme. The municipal commissioner and chief executive of the state pollution control board are also named as respondents in the lawsuit.

The rules for India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests state that municipal authorities should set the price for carryout bags, the filing indicates, reported the Mumbai Mirror.

The lawsuit accuses commercial establishments of not giving the money they collect from the bag fees to the municipal body. The 12 malls named in the petition are estimated to have collected over a 90-day period 4 million Indian rupees (US$81,246) in bag fees.

Consumers do not benefit from the bag fees, said Uday Wavikar, who filed the petition for the complainants. The bags still pose an “environmental hazard” and the retailers gain by advertising their names on the bags, he said.

The primary source of this article is the Mumbai Mirror, Mumbai, India, on Feb. 21, 2012.

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