STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION,
PUNJAB, DAKSHIN MARG, SECTOR-37A, CHANDIGARH
FIRST APPEAL NO. 1178 OF 2011
Date of Institution: 04.08.2011
Date of Decision: 06.06.2013
M/s Amritsar Crown Corps Pvt. Ltd., Factory 14 km stone, Amritsar-Jalandhar GT Road, V&PO Nawan Kot near Jandala Guru, District Amritsar through its Area Manager.
…..Appellant/Opposite Party No.1 VERSUS
1. Dinesh Kumar Garg son of Vishwa Mittar C/o Suraj Bhan Vishwamittar, Commission Agents, Lehra Bazar, Rampura, Phul, District Bathinda.
2. Harish Variety Store, Prop. Sanjay Tanwar son of Chiman Lal, resident of near Railway Phatak, Bathinda-Barnala Road, Opposite Stelco Industry, Rampura.
.....Respondent/Opposite Party No.2
First Appeal against the order
dated 19.5.2011 passed by the
District Consumer Disputes
Redressal Forum, Bathinda.
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Gurdev Singh, President
Sh. Baldev Singh Sekhon, Member
For the appellant : Sh.Achin Gupta, Advocate
For respondents : Ex-parte
BALDEV SINGH SEKHON, MEMBER
This appeal has been filed by the appellant/opposite party No.1, against the order dated 19.5.2011, passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Bathinda (in short “District Forum”), vide which the complaint of the respondent No.1/complainant was allowed.
2. Briefly stated, the facts are that the complainant purchased two Sprite bottles, 1.5 Ltr. each, manufactured by opposite party No.1, through opposite party No.2, on 23.10.2010 for Rs.110/- but no bill was issued to him by opposite party No.2. Out of these two bottles, one bottle was consumed by the complainant which caused unnecessary trouble in his abdomen and burning sensation. On checking of second bottle, it was found from outside that there was some foreign matter in the bottle i.e. web (Jalla), which was visible to the naked eye and the contents of the bottle were contaminated which could create health hazards. The contents of the bottle had become unhygienic. The complainant approached opposite party No.2 and showed him the bottle but he stated that he purchases the bottles from wholesale dealers only and sell it to the consumers or general public in the same condition in which it is purchased and, therefore, he was not responsible for the contents of the bottle, as the bottle was air tight and sealed as received from the wholesale dealer of the area. It was pleaded by the complainant that had the contents of the bottle been consumed without seeing the foreign material, it might have adversely affected his health. Therefore, he filed the complaint before the District Forum seeking directions to the opposite parties to pay a sum of Rs.1,00,000/- as compensation.
3. Upon notice, opposite party No.1 filed written reply in which it was pleaded that the product of opposite party No.1 was best for use for 3 months from the date of manufacturing. The said product was manufactured by them on 28.5.2010 vide batch No.PIBN480 and the same had already expired on 27.8.2010. In fact the same had been purchased by the complainant without checking the expiry date of the same. It was sold after 5 months from the date of manufacturingwhereas it was best for use upto 3 months. Therefore, opposite party No.1 was not responsible for the contents of the Sprite bottle. It was further pleaded that the complainant had never purchased two bottles of the Sprite from it nor it was selling the same in retail. It is preparing the lot containing thousands of the bottles at a time and there cannot be any chance of any alleged foreign matter in any of the bottle out of the total lot. They are using pet bottles and the bottles once used are never reused by it and rather each and every time fresh bottles are being used and the same are duly tested in the laboratory. The expired product of the opposite party is taken back by the replying opposite party from its authorized dealers and disposed of. In fact there is no packing of the Sprite in the bottle of 1.5 Ltrs.
4. Opposite party No.2 filed separate written reply admitting that he was a retailer/seller and not authorized stockist of opposite party No.1 and purchases the Sprite bottles in small quantity as per the demand and sell the same to the consumers. It was admitted that the complainant purchased two Sprite bottles from him against payment of Rs.110/- and the bill was not issued for the same as the bill was not given to him by the dealer of opposite party No.1. It was pleaded that he was not responsible in any manner because it sells the product in packed conditions as received from opposite party No.1. Since he is not the manufacturer or supplier but only a small shop keeper and has a small margin, so he cannot be fastened with any liability.
5. The parties led their evidence by way of affidavits and documents.
6. The learned District Forum, after going through the pleadings of the parties and evidence on record, accepted the complaint with cost of Rs.2,000/- against opposite party No.1 and directed it to pay Rs.10,000/- as compensation. The complaint was also accepted against opposite party No.2 with a cost of Rs.1,000/-
7. Aggrieved by this order, opposite party No.1 has come up in this appeal.
8. It was submitted by the learned counsel for opposite party No.1 that the learned District Forum has failed to appreciate the fact that the bottle was from batch No.PIBN480, the manufacturing date of which was 25.5.2010. It was mentioned on the bottle that the same was best for use for 3 months but the complainant purchased the same on 23.10.2010 after the expiry of that period. Opposite party No.1 is manufacturing the products which are required to be free from all types of hazards to life and safety but it is not responsible for the product which was purchased by the complainant after the expiry date. It was further submitted that the foreign substance in the bottle may be the result of non-following the instructions of the opposite party which are duly printed on the bottles i.e. to keep away from sunlight, to store in a cool and dry place etc.
9. We have thoroughly gone through the pleadings of the parties and have carefully perused the evidence on record and considered the submissions of the learned counsel for the opposite party No.1.
10. The bottle of Sprite in question was having batch No.PIBN480 and manufacturing date as 25.5.2010. It is mentioned on the bottle itself that it is best for use for 3 months i.e. upto 24.8.2010 whereas the same was purchased by the complainant on 23.10.2010 i.e. after almost two months of that date of expiry. Opposite party No.1 cannot be held responsible for the contaminated contents of the bottle after the date of expiry. This bottle should not have been sold by opposite party No.2 to the complainant. Even though the complainant was required to be vigilant and check the manufacturing date and expiry date before purchase but the failure to do so does not give any right to opposite party No.2 to sell an expired product. The expired product is never considered to be safe for human consumption. Hence opposite party No.2 is held responsible for selling expired and substandard product to the complainant.
11. The learned District Forum has held that the bottle was checked by it and found that same was fully tight and, therefore, no foreign material could enter into it even after expiry date. Hence opposite party No.1 was also held responsible for the existence of foreign material i.e. web (Jalla), which was visible with the naked eye. Worm of black colour was floating inside the bottle. This observation of the learned District Forum is patently incorrect. Any consumable product is good for human consumption for a specific period of time and after a specific period it is declared unsafe and due to this reason only, the date of expiry/best before date is mentioned on the product. The consumable products are declared unsafe because its ingredients get degenerated or decomposed after some time and the fungus (Jalla) may be generated even in the sealed container. Otherwise the same would be declared fit for all time to come.
12. In the instant case, the Sprite bottle purchased by the complainant was proved to be “Best before” upto 24.8.2010 but the same was sold by opposite party No.2 on 23.10.2010 almost after two months of the expiry of “Best before” date. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has notified Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations, 2011, in which the term “Best Before” has been defined as under:-
“”Best before” means the date which signifies the end of the period under any stated storage conditions during which the food shall remain fully marketable and shall retain any specific qualities for which tacit or express claims have been made and beyond that date, the food may still be perfectly safe to consume, though its quality may have diminished. However the food shall not be sold if at any stage the product becomes unsafe.”
13. Evidently the Sprite bottles were not marketable beyond 24.8.2010 but opposite party No.2 sold it to the complainant two months after the said date when Jalla (Web) was observed by the complainant in it. However, when same was inspected by the District Forum on 7.2.2011, worms of black colour were also found, which was probably because it was not kept in stated storage conditions. When the Jalla was visible with naked eye in the bottle on 23.10.2010, it should have been returned back to the manufacturer instead of selling the same to the complainant. The manufacturer of a product can, in no way, be held responsible for sale of defective product by a retailer after its marketable date.
14. In view of the above discussion and findings, the appeal of the appellant/opposite party No.1 is accepted and the complaint of the respondent No.1/complainant qua the opposite party No.1 is dismissed. However, the order of the learned District Forum qua the opposite party No.2 is affirmed and upheld. No order is made as to costs.
15. The appellant/opposite party No.1 deposited an amount of Rs.6,000/- with this Commission at the time of filing of the appeal. This amount, alongwith interest, which has accrued thereon, if any, be remitted by the registry to the appellant/opposite party No.1, by way of a crossed cheque/demand draft, after expiry of 45 days under intimation to the learned District Forum.
16. The arguments in the case were heard on 4.6.2013 and the order was reserved. Now, the order be communicated to the parties.
17. The appeal could not be decided within the statutory period because of the heavy pendency of the court cases.
(JUSTICE GURDEV SINGH) PRESIDENT (BALDEV SINGH SEKHON) MEMBER June 06, 2013 VINAY