By this Revision Petition, under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (for short 'the Act'), one Gangamai Agro Trust Gangamai Industries & Construction Limited and its General Manager, the Opposite Parties in the Complaint, call in question the legality and correctness of the order dated 10.12.2013, passed by the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Mumbai Circuit Bench at Aurangabad (for short 'the State Commission') in First Appeal No.190 of 2008. By the impugned order, the State Commission has affirmed the finding recorded by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Jalgaon (for short 'the District Forum') in its order dated 03.01.2008, in Complaint Case No.240 of 2007 to the effect that there was deficiency in service on the part of the Petitioners herein on account of their failure to cut the matured sugarcane crop on time, despite several requests, resulting in loss of income to him on account of the sugarcane having dried up. Consequently, the State Commission has dismissed the Petitioner’s Appeal, observing thus:
'As far as point No.1 is concerned, it appears that, the allegations of the complainant regarding deficiency in service on the part of the opponent sugar factory is based only on the ground that opponent sugar factory failed to take his sugarcane for crushing as the same was ready for cutting and crushing. As pointed out by the Ld. Counsel Shri Pradhan for the appellant that there was a declaration signed in between the complainant and opponent sugar factory which is dated 25.11.2005. As per the terms and condition of the said declaration the opponent sugar factory was to supply sugarcane setts required to be planted in the land admeasuring 0.75 Hector, belonging to the complainant for which a charge of Rs.20,000/- was created on 7/12record pertaining to the said land of the complainant. Further, after the sugarcane is matured the opponent sugar factory was to arrange for cutting for the sugarcane and carry the same for crushing. However, it manifests that although the sugarcane crop was matured in the month of Dec. 2006 the cutting of the same was not done by the opponent sugar factory. It is also to be noted that the complainant by his letters dated 03.04.2007, 13.04.2007 and 20.04.2007 which were sent by RPAD to the opponent sugar factory requested for cutting the sugarcane as the same was being dried up on account of its over maturity. That, these letters appears to have been acknowledged by the opponent sugar factory. However, it has failed to take the sugarcane for crushing by causing financial loss of income from the sugarcane crop. Hence, the complainant has very well proved that the opponent sugar factory has given deficient service to the complainant.'
2. On 05.08.2015, when the Petition came up for motion hearing, after hearing learned Counsel for the Petitioners at some length, notice was directed to be issued to the Respondent/Complainant confined to the question of quantum of compensation.
3. Upon notice, the Respondent/Complainant is represented. Accordingly, I have heard learned Counsel for both the parties.
4. Though, as noted above, the notice in the Petition was on a limited issue, viz. whether or not the compensation awarded by the lower Fora in favour of the Complainant, was disproportionate to the alleged loss, yet learned Counsel appearing for the Petitioners has again made a valiant attempt to convince me that under the agreement between the parties, the Petitioners were under no obligation to harvest the Complainant’s crop and therefore, there was no question of any deficiency in service on their part and further in the absence of any such arrangements between the parties, the Complainant could not be treated as a Consumer within the meaning of Section 2 (1) (d) of the Act viz-a-vis the Petitioners. It is also urged that the compensation awarded by the Fora below is too high when compared with the loss alleged to have been suffered by the Complainant.
5. Having perused the documents on record, I am of the view that there is no merit in the present Revision Petition.
6. Insofar as the question as to whether the Respondent could be treated as a consumer under the Act, having carefully perused the Written Version filed on behalf of the Petitioners, I find that no such plea was raised on their behalf in opposition to the Complaint. That being so, it is too late in the day to permit the Petitioners to raise such a plea in these proceedings, wherein the scope of interference is very limited. Moreover, the notice in this Petition is also confined to the question of quantum of compensation.
7. As regards the plea that the compensation awarded is excessive, having carefully perused the documents on record and the order passed by the Fora Below, in particular, the afore-extracted portion of the order impugned in this Revision Petition, I find that regard being had to the background facts, forcing the Complainant, a farmer, to initiate legal action against the Petitioners for redressal of his legitimate grievance, the total compensation of Rs.70,000/- awarded by the Fora below cannot be said to be disproportionate to the loss suffered by the Complainant. Accordingly, this submission is also rejected. Nevertheless, having regard to the circumstances of the case, I feel that the award of interest in addition to lump sum amount of compensation is not warranted.
8. Resultantly, the Revision Petition is partly allowed to the extent above. In nut shell, while maintaining the compensation awarded, I set aside the direction relating to payment of interest by the Petitioners on the afore-said amo
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unt of compensation. However, if the said amount is not paid to the Complainant within four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, it shall carry interest @ 6% p.a. from the date of filing of the Complaint till realization. 9. If any amount has already been received by the Complainant against the amount awarded by the Fora below, the Petitioners will be entitled to account for the same while remitting the balance amount due in terms of this order to the Respondent, by means of a Demand Draft in his favour. 10. The Revision Petition stands disposed of in the above terms with no order as to costs.