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Zimidara Agro Center & Another v/s Sukhdev Singh & Others

    Revision Petition Nos. 2354, 1917 of 2016 in Appeal Nos. 223, 224 of 2013 with IA Nos. 10832, 10885 of 2016

    Decided On, 31 May 2017

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC


    For the Appearing Parties: Rajesh Kumar, Ankit Swarup, Tanya Swarup, Advocates.

Judgment Text

1. The complainant / respondent Sukhdev Singh took 6 acres of agricultural land on lease from one Baljinder Singh. He purchased two packets of Nikki MRC 7017 BG-11 and three packets of Mahyco Bollgard MRC 6304 seeds from Jimidara Agro Center, petitioner in Revision Petition No.2354 of 2016. The grievance of the complainant is that on sowing the aforesaid seeds in 3 acres of land, growth of plants was not proper and yield of the crop was lesser, as compared to the other seeds. The complainant therefore, approached the Agriculture Officer, seeking inspection of his field. It was reported by the Agriculture Officer that germination of the seed was very low and growth of the plants were not equal though PH level of the earth was correct. The complainant approached the concerned District Forum with a consumer complaint, alleging sub-standard quality of the seeds sold to him by Jimidara Agro Center. Since the seeds had been manufactured by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd., petitioner in Revision Petition No.1917 of 2016 the aforesaid company was also impleaded as the opposite party in the complaint.

2. The complaint was resisted by the manufacturer as well as by the dealer. It was denied by the manufacturer that the seeds sold to the complainant were of inferior quality. It was also alleged that less flower growth was due to the factors such as insufficient water, fertilizers, unsuitable land, unfavourable environmental condition, lack of plant protection measures, insufficient nutrients in soil, non-spraying of required insecticides etc. It was also pleaded that the seeds had been duly certified by the quality control laboratory recognized by the Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India, which had also been accredited by International Seed Testing Association.

3. The District Forum having allowed the complaint, the petitioners before this Commission, filed separate appeals before the State Commission, challenging the said orders. Vide impugned order dated 09.3.2016, the State Commission dismissed the appeals filed by the petitioners. Being aggrieved they are before this Commission by way of these two separate revision petitions.

4. Admittedly, seeds of two varieties MRC 6304 and MRC 7017 were purchased by the complainant. The lot No. of MRC 6304 was XKC 100234S whereas the lot No. of MRC 7017 was ZKC 100018X. The seeds were purchased on 18.5.2011. A perusal of the Quality Control Laboratory test report issued by the Laboratory of the manufacturer shows that the purity of the seeds of variety MRC 6304, lot No. XKC 100234S was 99.9% and the germination of the aforesaid seeds was 92%. This report is dated 18.2.2011. A perusal of the report dated 18.2.2011, issued by Quality Assurance Laboratory, Dawalwadi, of the manufacturer, would show that batch No. XKC 100234S of MRC 6304 had passed the quality assurance test, with genetic purity being 98.89% as against the minimum required genetic purity of 90%. It thus shows that the seeds of lot No. XKC 100234S of MRC 6304 were of the prescribed standards and cannot be said to be a defective or substandard.

5. A perusal of the report dated 16.4.2011, issued by Quality Control Laboratory of the manufacturer in respect of lot No. ZKC 100018X of the variety MRC 7017 would show that purity was 99.7% with germination at 86%. The report given by Quality Assurance Laboratory, Dawalwadi on the same date in respect of the aforesaid seeds would show that the genetic purity of the seeds was found to be 98.93% as against the minimum prescribed purity of 90%. Therefore, the seeds of lot No. ZKC 100018X of the variety MRC 7017 cannot be said to be substandard or defective. The seeds having been purchased by the complainant in May, 2011, the report of the laboratories was valid at the time of sale.

6. The entire case of the complainant s based upon the inspection report prepared by Jarnail Singh, ADO and Bhagat Singh, Field man, who inspected the field of the complainant on 30.06.2011, in the absence of the manufacturer and reported deficient in germination due to poor quality of seeds. It was also reported that the plants were not of equal size, they were having uneven growth and the seeds were of different quality. The report further shows that the Agriculture Development Officer decided to inspect the field again in the month of August, 2011, presumably in order to make final assessment depending upon the crop condition in August, 2011. However, the complainant frustrated the planned visit of the Agriculture Officer in August, 2011 by levelling the field before the visit of the Agriculture Development Officer. The report dated 29.8.2011 by the Agriculture Development Officer shows that when the officers went for spot inspection of the field of the complainant on 29.8.2011, the field was found levelled.

7. In his cross-examination before the District Forum, the officer who inspected the field of the complainant, admitted that he had not taken any sample from the spot and that they could not determine the quality of the seed without taking the sample. He also admitted that the crop can be damaged due to various types of calamity changes. In my view, the report of the Agriculture Officer based upon field inspection alone, without sampling and testing of the sample in a laboratory, cannot be preferred over the report of the accredited laboratories of the manufacturer. Had the manufacturer not produced valid reports from a duly accredited laboratory in respect of lot from which seeds were sold to the complainant, the fora below would have been justified in accepting the report of the Agriculture Officer based upon the site inspection. But, when report from the accredited laboratories is produced, validating the quality of the seeds of a particular lot of a particular variety and it is shown that seeds of the same lot, of the same variety, were purchased by the complainant, it would not be justified to rely upon the report of the Agriculture Officer based upon the site inspection alone. This is more so, when no witness is associated with the field inspection and the complainant frustrates the scheduled final inspection by the Agriculture Officer by levelling the field before the said scheduled inspection.

8. The learned counsel for the respondent / complainant has relied upon 2015 (2) CLT 536 Yaaganti Seeds Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. Vs. Manchala Komuraiah, Revision Petition No. 3783 of 2014 decided on 28.4.2015, (1998) 6 SCC 738 Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd. Vs. Alavalapati Chandra Reddy & Ors., Civil Appeal No. 5163 of 1995 decided on 18.8.1998, (2011) (3) CLT, PHI Seeds Ltd. & Anr. Vs. Raghunatha Reddy & Anr

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., decided on 29.06.2010 and M/s. National Seeds Corporation Ltd. Vs. M. Madhusudhan Reddy & Anr., decided on 16.1.2012 in Civil Appeal No. 7543 of 2004. However, none of the aforesaid decisions is of any help to the complainant in view of the reports of accredited laboratories certifying the quality of the seeds. 9. For the reasons stated hereinabove, I hold that the complainant has failed to prove that the seeds sold to him were defective or substandard. The order awarding compensation to the complainant therefore cannot be justified. The orders passed by the fora below are therefore, set aside and the complaint is consequently dismissed, with no order as to costs. Both the revision petitions stand disposed of.