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Kuber Agro Corporation & Others v/s Gurmeet Singh & Others

    Revision Petition No. 2204 of 2015

    Decided On, 23 March 2017

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC


    For the Petitioners: Niti Chaudhary, Gaurav Chaudhary, Advocates. For the Respondents: R1 & R2, B.R. Arora, R3, Bhabna Das, Advocates.

Judgment Text

This revision petition has been filed by the petitioner against the order dated 27.03.2015 passed by the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh (in short, ‘the State Commission’) in Appeal No. 493 of 2009 – Kuber Agro Corporation & Ors. Vs. Gurmeet Singh by which, appeal was partly allowed.

2. Brief facts of the case are that OP no.1/Petitioner No. 1 has been dealing in sale of seeds, pesticides and other related business of agriculture at Old Grain Market, Kotkapura. The complainants/Respondent No. 1 & 2, being in joint possession of 64 kanals of land, purchased paddy seeds in two separate packing of 30 kg each of PR/114 and three separate bags of 10 kg each of Pusa/1121 variety from OP no.1, vide bill at serial no.2537, dated 10.05.2010 and paid total amount of Rs.3150/- therefor (i.e. Rs.1800/- for PR/114 variety and Rs.1350/- for Pusa/1121 variety). The complainants sowed the seeds of PR/114 in their 15 acres of land, as per the instructions of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), as imparted from time to time in Kissan Mela. OP no.1 also assured the complainant for good yield thereof. The complainants followed the instructions of PAU strictly regarding sowing of crops, spraying, maturity, and land level and so on. The seeds so sold to the complainants by OP no.1 were of sub-standard and of inferior quality, as the plants were of different varieties as that of PR-114 and their length increased upto 2 feet and yielding was not proper therefrom. The complainants approached OP no.1 about this, but to no effect. The complainants then moved an application dated 07.09.2010 before Chief Agriculture Officer Ferozepur, who deputed the Agriculture Officer, Mamdot for inspecting the crops, who inspected the crops sown in the fields of the complainants over 15 acres of land. The above Agriculture Officer Mamdot submitted its detailed report to the Chief Agriculture Officer Ferozepur specifically recording that 4 to 5% plants were of some other inferior variety of seeds and the same were still green without grain therein, when the grains of other plants had ripened. The germination of seeds was not upto the standard, as sold to the complainants by OP no.1. Alleging deficiency on the part of OPs, complainant filed complaint before District forum.

3. OP No. 1 resisted complaint, admitted sale of seeds to the complainants, but submitted that complainants have not complied with the mandatory provision of Sections 13(1)(c) of the Act, as the seeds were not tested in any laboratory to prove their sub-standard quality. The yield of the crop depended on so many factors like preparation of the land upto reaping of the crop, fertilization, type of land, proper irrigation, climate, seasonal condition & diseases etc. It was further submitted that he purchased seeds from OP-2 in original container and sold the same in same condition and prayed for dismissal of complaint. OP No. 2 submitted that he purchased seeds from OP No. 3 and in intact condition sold it to OP No. 1. It was further submitted that report of Agriculture Officer has been obtained by complainants in connivance and took similar objections taken by OP No. 1 and prayed for dismissal of complaint. OP No. 3 resisted complaint, took similar defence and submitted that seeds were purchased from OP no. 4 and prayed for dismissal of complaint. OP No. 4 resisted complaint and submitted that he has been impleaded unnecessarily. It was denied that seeds were of sub-standard nature and further pleaded that they were packed under supervision of Punjab Seeds Certification Authority and prayed for dismissal of complaint. Learned District Forum after hearing parties allowed complaint and directed OP No. 1, 2 & 3 to pay Rs. 2,52,000/- to the complainant and further directed OP No. 1 to pay Rs. 3,000/- as litigation expenses to OP No. 4. OP No. 1 to 3 filed appeal before State Commission and learned State Commission vide impugned order reduced compensation to Rs.2,25,000/- against which, this revision petition has been filed.

4. Heard learned Counsel for the parties and perused record.

5. Learned Counsel for petitioner submitted that as they supplied seeds in packed condition intact and as complainant failed to prove seeds of sub-standard quality, learned District Forum committed error in allowing complaint and learned State Commission further committed error in dismissing partly; hence, revision petition be allowed and impugned order be modified and complaint be dismissed. On the other hand, learned Counsel for the Respondent No. 1 & 2 submitted that order passed by learned State Commission is in accordance with law; hence, revision petition be dismissed. Learned Counsel for the Respondent No. 3 supported petitioner and prayed for dismissal of complaint.

6. The core question to be decided is whether seeds supplied by OP to complainant were sub-standard on account of which, seeds sown in complainants land did not give requisite yield.

7. Complainant in para 3 of the complaint has mentioned about Jambandi in their name, but OP in its written statement denied this fact and complainant has not placed on record Jambandi of land by which, it could have been concluded that complainant was possessing land in which seeds were sown. Report dated 17.9.2010 given by Agriculture Officer, Ferozepur also does not contain Khasra No. of land possessed by complainants in which seeds were sown. In such circumstances, it cannot be inferred that complainants have sown seeds purchased from OP in their fields which were sub-standard.

8. As far sub-standard seeds is concerned, admittedly, complainants have not placed any test report of appropriate laboratory which could have proved that seeds were sub-standard. Learned Counsel for Respondent No. 1 & 2 submitted that as complainants not retained samples of seeds they could not obtain report from laboratory. This argument is devoid of force because as per report of Agriculture Officer related farmers had samples of seeds and inspite of having samples of seeds not obtaining report from laboratory, dis-entitles complainants any compensation on the ground of sub-standard seeds. Admittedly, Agriculture Officer neither called Patwari nor called OPs nor called any person holding adjacent land while doing inspection and only on the basis of his report compensation cannot be awarded. He himself has observed in the report that it is not clear what is the reason behind inferior plants and when Agriculture Officer himself is not sure for the reasons of inferior plants, compensation cannot be awarded without laboratory report. Agriculture Officer Mr. Gurmeet Singh in his cross-examination admitted that he did not issue any notice to the OP regarding visit on the land of complainant, though, he saw bill which contained phone number of OP No. 1. He also admitted that he did not call any of the respectable villagers to join inspection and he did not call Patwari also. He also admitted that complainant did not produce any Jambandi or khasra girdwari or any document relating to the land and he submitted report only on the basis of statement of complainant that land belongs to them. He further admitted that he had no experience from seed testing laboratory and he as well nobody can tell by physical verification that seeds are sub-standard and only the testing laboratories can tell whether seed is sub-standard or not. In such circumstances, on the basis of report of Agriculture Officer who has no experience to declare seeds as sub-standard by physical verification, it cannot be presumed that seeds were sub-standard. He further admitted in his cross-examination that he estimated mixing of seeds to the extent of 4/5% from the heights of the plants. Only on the basis of heights of the plants, mixing of seeds cannot be presumed.

9. OPs have pleaded in their written statement that they supplied seed packets intact. Learned State Commission in the impugned order observed that tampering cannot be ruled out without even touching the seeds in the packets. No reason has been given for aforesaid observation and if packets are intact, I am of the view that there cannot be mixing of sub-standard seeds in the intact packets and learned District Forum committed error in allowing compensation on the ground of sub-standard seeds and learned State Commission further committed error in dismissing appeal partly.

10. Learned Counsel for respondent has placed reliance on judgment of this Commission in 2009 (2) CPC 21 – National Seeds Corpn. Ltd. Vs. Nalia Narsimba Rao in which it was observed that defects in seeds can be proved by producing some experts as there was no analysis from laboratory. Aforesaid judgment is not applicable to the facts of present case as complainant has not produced any expert evidence and so called Agriculture Officer had no experience as admitted by him in his cross-examination. He has also placed reliance on judgment of Hon’ble Apex Court in 2012 (1) CPC 190 – M/s. National Seeds Corporation Ltd. Vs. M. Madhusudhan Reddy & anr. in which it was observed that when farmer does not retain samples, producer or supplier should have made available samples to the District forum for being sent to appropriate laboratory for analysis or test. It was further observed that officer of the said Company who inspected fields could have collected samples and got them tested in laboratory and omission supports the plea of complainant that seeds supplied were defective. Aforesaid judgment is not applicable because in the case in hand, complainants were having samples of seeds which they did not made available to District forum for getting it tested from laboratory and Agriculture Officer did not inspec

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t field after due notice to OP. 11. Hon’ble Apex Court in 2005 Law Suit (SC) 306 – Haryana Seeds Development Corpn. Ltd. Vs. Sadhu observed that germination of seeds would depend upon several other factors such as, climate-condition, type of soil, water and irrigation facilities, quality of fertilizer, etc. and after relying on report of expert committee dismissed complaint. I agree with the law laid down by Hon’ble Apex Court and in the absence of any test report or evidence of expert, learned District Forum committed error in allowing complaint on the ground of sub-standard seeds and revision petition is to be allowed. 12. Consequently, revision petition filed by the petitioner is allowed and impugned order dated 27.03.2015 passed by the learned State Commission in Appeal No. 493 of 2009 – Kuber Agro Corporation & Ors. Vs. Gurmeet Singh and order of District forum dated 15.3.2012 passed in CC No. 155 of 2012 – Gurmeet Singh Vs. Kuber Agro Corpn. & Ors. is set aside and complaint stands dismissed with no order as to costs.