A casual Bumble date took an unexpected turn for a young man in Pune, unfolding at the local pub. The incident gained attention when journalist Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj shared both the bill and the victim’s post, bringing it into the spotlight. Interestingly, the bill was generated on October 2nd 2023, which is Gandhi Jayanti. On such day, no pubs, beverages or bars shall not be open.
According to the victim, the girl he met through Bumble chose this particular place for their meeting and promptly ordered an extravagant hookah and wine. To his shock, the bill totaled Rs. 23,307, including service charges (Rs. 21189 + 10% Service charge).
The girl allegedly threatened him to pay up or face physical harm and involvement of his family. The detailed bill revealed exorbitant prices, such as Rs. 9,999 for a Shisha Red Bull-based hookah and Rs. 1,499 for a Sula wine glass (Qty 2).
Interestingly, the wine glass itself is priced at Rs. 1500, and this amount was charged solely for the privilege of consuming the wine. The wine glass should be provided as a complimentary item with the wine and should not incur any additional charges. There is a contradiction in the price mentioned in the menu provided in the zomato and google and the price shown in the bill. The absence of a Goods and Services Tax (GST) number on the bill raised concerns. Hukka, with a GST rate of 28% (luxury tax), and wine, with a GST rate of 18%, should have incurred GST, but the pub only charged a 10% service charge.
GST registration is mandatory for businesses with an annual turnover exceeding Rs. 20 lakhs. The substantial bill suggests the pub’s turnover is likely sufficient for GST registration, raising questions about potential tax evasion.
If the pub operates under the composition tax scheme, GST should be included in the Maximum Retail Price (MRP), and the bill should clearly mention ‘Composition Dealer.’ However, these legal requirements were reportedly not met by the pub. Thus, it is clear that they don’t have a GST registration. However, the price of the items shows that they should have one. Moreover, the controversy is compounded by the fact that the Maharashtra government had implemented a comprehensive ban on hookah parlours in 2018.
The violation of this ban carries penalties, including a substantial fine of Rs one lakh and the possibility of imprisonment for up to three years.
The owner of the Pub has responded to Taxscan that the bill is fake and they have enough proof to prove their innocence. He also stated that he’s moving with legal proceedings for such allegations. Mitesh Ghatte, Additional Superintendent of Police, Pune Rural, stated, “We are unaware of the place’s status right now. We will inquire and investigate this matter further.”
These incidents occur frequently, underscoring the need for heightened vigilance. It is strongly recommended that individuals remain alert and avoid falling into such traps. Raising awareness about these incidents is crucial, and it is encouraged for individuals to respond actively to such instances of exploitation and unfair practices.