A pair of ripe bananas for Rs 442. While the price was exorbitant enough for Rahul Bose to take to Twitter and post the bill of a five-star hotel, we also went bananas and tried finding out the fruit’s cost — no, not at sabzi mandis, but from chefs. Bose, in a video of himself at JW Marriott in Chandigarh, wrote: “You have to see this to believe it. Who said fruit wasn’t harmful to your existence?”. He had signed off with hashtag- #GoingBananas
The cost of the humble bananas, presented as a “fruit platter”, has left a certain section of the hotel industry stunned as well. Chef Manish Mehrotra from Indian Accent, which has been awarded the Best Restaurant in India for five consecutive years and ranked 17 in The World’s 50 Best, said he would have preferred to give two ripe bananas for free at his restaurant. “Buying something from the market and offering it without putting any extra effort, doesn’t justify the extra charge,” the chef told indianexpress.com.
“I know Rahul; the hotel he stayed at didn’t do anything to embellish the bananas, like cutting it in an appealing manner or garnishing with nuts, so it doesn’t really make sense,” he remarked.
Amey Pravin Mhatre, chef at De Partie in Taj Wellington, a property of Taj Mahal Mumbai, informed that they charge Rs 300 for a large fruit platter. He, however, added that because they (JW Marriott) did not have any other category to peg the bill under, it read ‘fruit platter’, saying that, “they could have billed it under Chef’s Special and charged him Rs 100 or Rs 200 for a couple of bananas”.
When asked what the Taj charges for two bananas, the chef said that they sell it on MRP at Taj Deli Mart where guests can buy fresh organic fruits, cereals, variety of basic items as well as some healthy raw items at market rates. “We don’t charge a fruit platter price for two bananas. All the hype that this incident created wasn’t required because if you stay in a five-star hotel, you do not just pay for the products but also for their excellent services and for an actor like Bose it shouldn’t be a big deal,” the chef opined.
People also posted their ‘Rahul Bose moment‘ on social media, sharing pictures of bills from luxurious hotels where they were charged an ‘extravagant’ amount. The banana, commonly known as the poor man’s fruit in India, is among the most affordable and a dozen come for around Rs 40, with a kilo costing around Rs 60-65. An easy source of potassium, the fruit is highly preferred by fitness enthusiasts.
While sources in the hotel industry justified to The Indian Express saying that a five-star hotel (where room rent is Rs 7,500 and above per night) can charge 18 per cent tax on sale of an item, GST experts said that as per law, fresh fruits are not taxable at all.
You have to see this to believe it. Who said fruit wasn’t harmful to your existence? Ask the wonderful folks at @JWMarriottChd #goingbananas #howtogetfitandgobroke #potassiumforkings pic.twitter.com/SNJvecHvZB
— Rahul Bose (@RahulBose1) 22 July 2019</blockquote
Meanwhile, according to excise officials, the case is prima facie a violation of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Chandigarh Deputy Commissioner and Excise and Taxation Commissioner Mandip Singh Brar ordered an investigation to probe the levying of GST on two fresh bananas at JW Marriott hotel and a three-member team visited the hotel in Sector 35 and seized the relevant records.
Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner Rajeev Chaudhary told Chandigarh Newsline, “ETOs have seized all relevant records. The question here is that fresh fruits are tax-free items, whatever the case may be, and ‘fruit platter’ is a taxable item. But the actor has been given fresh fruits and tax has been charged on it so we are investigating all angles. We are even probing whether relevant tax is being deposited regularly with the excise and taxation department or not.”