R.S. Sharma, President:
1. This appeal is directed against the order dated 05.06.2013, passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Durg (C.G.) (henceforth "District Forum") in Complaint Case No.88/2012. By the impugned order the complaint filed by the respondent No.1 (complainant) has been allowed against the appellant (O.P.No.2) and the District Forum has directed the appellant (O.P.No.2) to pay the respondent No.1 (complainant) the cost of 26.17 qtls. Swarna Dhan, which is the quantity of less production in the year as notified by the Government of Chhattisgarh as compensation within two months along with interest @ 6% p.a. from 09.08.2011 till date of payment, within two months from date of payment, otherwise the interest @ 09% would be payable, but the interest on interest would not be payable and the amount of interest would not be more than the principal amount. The District Forum, has further directed the appellant (O.P.No.2) to pay a sum of Rs.2,000/- to the respondent No.1 (complainant) as advocate fees and cost of litigation and Rs.1,000/- to respondent No.2 (O.P.No.1) as advocate fees and cost of litigation.
2 Briefly stated, the facts of the complaint filed by the respondent No.1 (complainant) before the District Forum as per pleading of the respondent No.1 (complainant) are : that he has purchased paddy seed of variety Swarna masuri about 3 Quintal from the appellant (O.P.No.2). He has sown the paddy seed in his field but at the time of maturity of crop he found that the plant was of uneven size and mixed plant. He made complaint to Deputy Director, Agriculture, Durg and District Collector on 07.09.2010 and the investigating team comprising of Sub Divisional Officer, Agriculture, Durg, made inspection in the field of the respondent No.1 (complainant) and submitted report finding that the number of type plants are more than 2% as the optimum number which cause low production below the seed Certification standard. Dy. Director, Agriculture, Durg has given direction to estimate average yield trial which was done in the presence of S.D.O. Agriculture, R.A.E.O. Tirga and Processing Centre Incharge, Seed and Agriculture Development Corporation, Ruabandha, Durg on the trail of paddy was obtained, it amounted to 29.28 qtls thereby the loss of production was 26.17 qtls., therefore, the respondent (complainant) has incurred loss in production to the tune of Rs.27,478/- and prayed for compensation of Rs.53,830/- by filing consumer complaint before the District Forum against the OPs.
3. The respondent No.2 (O.P.No.1) filed his written statement before the District Forum and denied the allegations leveled by the respondent No.1 (complainant) against him.
4. The appellant (O.P.No.2) also filed his written statement before the District Forum and pleaded that the respondent No.1 (complainant) is not covered under the definition of "consumer" under Section 2(d)(i) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. There is no service rendered by the appellant (O.P.No.2) to the respondent No.1 (complainant). The respondent No.1 (complainant) has not purchased seed from the appellant (O.P.No.2), and hence the respondent No.1 (complainant) is not a consumer as defined in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. It has been pleaded that there was no admixture in the seed of paddy. The appellant (O.P.No.2) has supplied the said paddy seed to the respondent No.2 (O.P.No.1) being lot No.NOV-09-34-42-DUG- 836-2-CII(A) is 99.9% pure as per the results issued by the Seed Testing Laboratory, Raipur. As per packing process applied by the Processing Centre, the whole procedure was done in the presence of Assistant Seed Testing Officer and Processing Center Incharge, after satisfaction of both agency the seed is ready to move for storage. So, no question arise about mixing in centre. The paddy seed of same lot number has been supplied to the four societies amounting to total 183.90 qtls. Out of which only 3 qtl. seed was purchased by the respondent No.1 (complainant) from respondent No.2 (O.P.No.1). No complaint was received from any farmer except the respondent No.1 (complainant), therefore, the complaint is not reliable. The appellant (O.P.No.1) further pleaded that enquiry report submitted by the Deputy Director, Agriculture, Durg is not reliable, but paragraph 1 of the report shows that the respondent No.1 farmer had sown seed in the field directly, if he had observed the seed before sowing, admixture in the paddy seed could have been detected. The seed can be returned to the Society respondent No.2 (O.P.No.1) but the respondent No.1 farmer has not taken any precautions before use of the seed in nursery stage. Due to that negligence, the mixture in seed can arise in the field. The appellant (O.P.No.2) is not responsible for any kind of admixture in the seed at the latter stage after the delivery of seed from the Corporation office.
5. Learned District Forum, after having considered the documents filed by the parties allowed the complaint against appellant (O.P.No.1) and awarded compensation to the respondent No.1 (complainant), as mentioned in para 1 of this order.
6. Shri Vishal Sahu, learned counsel appearing for the appellant (O.P.No.1) argued that the impugned order passed by the District Forum, is erroneous in fact and law, hence is liable to be set aside. As per the recommendation of the Seed Testing Department, the mixture of other permissible variety in paddy is 2%, therefore, mixture of other variety in paddy is well within the limit. The respondent No.1 (complainant) has not followed the standard package and practices as per the norms laid down for the production program, the various in the height of the plant and mixed plant are observable at the vegetative stage of the crop growth and not at the maturity stage, the respondent No.1 (complainant) has not removed off type from his field. The appellant (O.P.No.2) is bound to produce and sell standard seed to supply quality seed to the farmers for the production of standard certified seed for that the sees are well tested in the Seed Testing Laboratory and no there is no defect in the seed sold by the appellant corporation by seal packed bags. There was no admixture in the seed of paddy. The appellant (O.P.No.2) supplied the said paddy seed to the respondent No.2 being lot No.NOV-09-34-42-DUG-836-2CII(A) is 99.9% pure as per the result issued by the Seed Testing Laboratory, Raipur. He placed reliance on Chhattisgarh State Seed and Agriculture Development Corporation Limited. Vs. Sanatan Verma and another (Appeal No.758/2011), Chhattisgarh State Seed and Agriculture Development Vs. Uttam Verma and another (Appeal No.760/2011), Chhattisgarh State Seed and Agriculture Development Corporation Limited vs. Shekhar Verma and another (Appeal No.761/2011), Chhattisgarh State Seed and Agriculture Development Corporation Limited vs. Chakan Verma and another (Appeal No.762/2011), Chhattisgarh State Seed and Agriculture Development Corporation Limited vs. Omprakash Verma and another (Appeal No.763/2011), Chhattisgarh State Seed and Agriculture Development Corporation Limited vs. Lovkush Sahu and another (Appeal No.764/2011) and Chhattisgarh State Seed and Agriculture Development Corporation Limited vs. Rambagus Sahu and another (Appeal No.765/2011) decided by this Commission vide common order dated 27.07.2012.
7. Shri R.K. Bhawnani, learned counsel, appearing for the respondent No.1 (complainant) argued that respondent No.1 (complainant) has fully proved his case before the District Forum and learned District Forum has passed the impugned order after considering all the facts carefully. The impugned order passed by the learned District Forum, is not erroneous or illegal, therefore, the order passed by the District Forum deserves to be affirmed and it does not call any interference by this Commission. The appeal filed by the appellant (O.P.No.2) be dismissed.
8. None appeared before us for respondent No.2 (O.P.No.1) on 16.04.2014 when the case is fixed for final arguments.
9. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and have perused the record of the District Forum.
10. The respondent No.1 (complainant) filed documents. Document 01 is letter dated 07.09.2010 sent by the respondent No.1 (complainant) to Senior Deputy Director, Durg, document 02 is letter dated 10.09.2010 sent by the respondent No.1 (complainant) to Collector, document 3 is letter dated 29.09.2010 sent by Deputy Director Agriculture, District Durg (C.G.) to the respondent No.1 (complainant), document 4 is letter dated 12.10.2010 sent by Deputy Director, Agriculture, District Durg (C.G.) to the respondent No.1 (complainant), document 5 is letter dated 15.11.2010 sent by the respondent No.1 (complainant) to Senior Deputy Director, Durg, document 6 is pramanit dhan kharif fasal crop cutting varsh 2010-11, document 7 is letter dated 07.03.2011 sent by the Deputy Director, Agriculture, District Durg (C.G.) to Process Incharge, C.G. Rajya Beej Evam Krishi Vikas Nigam Limited, document 8 is registered notice dated 09.08.2011 sent by Shri Anurg Thaker, Advocate to the OPs, document 9 and 10 are postal receipts, document 11 to 13 are acknowledgements, document 14 is Kisan Credit Book.
11. The respondent No.2 (O.P.No.1) has filed documents. Document P-1 is Challan for articles supplied issued by Rajya Been Evam Krishi Vikas Nigam Limited.
12. The appellant (O.P.No.2), has also filed documents. Document 1 is Result Sheet of Seed Testing Laboratory, Raipur (C.G.). Document Annexure R-1 is Result Sheet of Seed Testing Laboratory, Raipur, document Annexure R-2 is letter dated 22.08.2011 sent by the Process Incharge, C.G. Rajay Beej Evam Krishi Vikas Nigam Limited, Ruabandha, District Durg (C.G.).
13. It is not expected that every farmers, who purchased seeds from Seed Corporation set apart some quantity of seeds for testing on the presumption that seeds would be defective and he would be called upon to prove the same through laboratory testing, but it is expected that if the seeds was not germinating properly or the germination of the seed is below standard and not satisfactory, then the agriculturists can move an application before competent authority for inspecting the filed and they can make complaints before the competent authority for inspecting the field.
14. In the instant case, the respondent No.1 (complainant) specifically pleaded that he purchased swarna paddy from the respondent No.2 (O.P.No.1) in which about 30 to 35% Mahamaya Paddy Seed, was mixed. The respondent No.1 (complainant) made complaint in this regard before Senior Deputy Director, Agriculture, Durg (C.G.) on 07.09.2010 and also made complaint before the Collector, Durg on 10.09.2010. The Deputy Director, Agriculture, Durg visited the field of the respondent No.1 (complainant) and gave his report on 29.09.2010 to the Collector, Durg which is document No.03. In the said document, it is mentioned in para 2 that in 4 acres agricultural land of the farmer near about 2% of other paddy was found in addition to the swarna dhan, which is earlier than 30-35 days of swarna paddy. The respondent No.1 (complainant) again made complaint before the Deputy Director Agriculture, Durg (C.G) and the Deputy Director Agriculture, Durg (C.G.) wrote a letter dated 07.03.2011 (document 07) to the Process Incharge, C.G. Rajya Beej Evam Krishi Vikas Nigam, Ruabandha, District Durg (C.G.) in which it is mentioned that
15. In the case of M/s National Seeds Corporation Ltd. v. M. Madhusudhan Reddy, 2013 (3) CPR 589 (SC), Honble Supreme Court has observed thus :-
"37. In Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd. v. Alavalapati Chandra Reddy, this Court did not decide the issue relating to the alleged non-compliance of Section 13(1)(c) of the Consumer Act, but approved the reasoning of the State Commission which found fault with the appellant for not taking steps to get the seeds tested in an appropriate laboratory. In that case, the respondent had complained that the sunflower seeds purchased by him did not germinate because the same were defective. The complaint was contested by the appellant on several grounds. The District Forum allowed the complaint and declared that the respondent was entitled to compensation @ Rs.2,000/- per acre in addition to the cost of the seeds. The State Commission rejected the objection of the appellant that the seeds and sent them for analysis or test for determining the quality. The National Commission summarily dismissed the revision filed by the appellant. In paragraph 4 of the judgment, this Court extracted the finding recorded by the State Commission for upholding the order of the District Forum and declined to interfere with the award of compensation to the respondent. The relevant portions of paragraph 4 are reproduced below :
"Thus, it is clear that it is on the permit granted by the Agricultural Officer that the complainants purchased seeds from the opposite parties and that the same Agricultural Officer visited the land and found that there was no germination. In view of the letter written by the Agricultural Officer to the opposite parties to which they sent no reply, it is clear that the same seeds that were purchased from the opposite parties were sown and they did not germinate. In view of the aforesaid letter of the Agricultural Officer, the District Forum felt that the seeds need not be sent for analysis. Moreover, if the opposite parties have disputed that the seeds were not defective they would have applied to the District Forum to send the samples of seeds from the said batch for analysis by appropriate laboratory. But the opposite parties have not chosen to file any application for sending the seeds to any laboratory. Since it is probable that the complainants have sown all the seeds purchased by them, they were not in a position to send seeds for analysis. In these circumstances, the order of the District Forum is not vitiated by the circumstance that it has not on its own accord sent the seeds for analysis by an appropriate laboratory.
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It is clear from the letter of Agricultural Officer that the opposite parties in-spite of their promise, never visited the fields of the complainants. The opposite parties did not adduce any material to show that the complainants did not manure properly or that there is some defect in the field. In the absence of such evidence and in view of the conduct of the opposite parties not visiting the fields and having regard to the allegation in the complaint that there were rains in the month of September 1991 and the complainants sowed the seeds, it cannot be said that there is any defect either in the manure or in the preparation of the soil for sowing sunflower seeds."
"38. Reference can usefully be made to the orders of the National Commission in N.S.C. Ltd. v. Guruswamy, E.I.D. Parry (I) Ltd. v. Gaurishankar and India Seed House v. Ramjilal Sharma (2008) 3 CPJ 96. In these cases the National Commission considered the issue relating to non-compliance of Section 13(1)(c) in the context of the complaints made by the farmers that their crops had failed due to supply of defective seeds and held that the District Forum and State Commission did not commit any error by entertaining the complaint of the farmers and awarding compensation to them. In the first case, the National Commission noted that the entire quantity of seeds had been sown by the farmer and observed :-
"There is no doubt in our mind that where complainant alleges a defect in goods which cannot be determined without proper analysis or test of the goods, then the sample need to be taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis or test. But the ground reality in the instant case is that reposing faith in the seller, in this case the leading Public Sector Company dealing in seed production and sale, the petitioner sowed whole of the seed purchased by him. Where was the question of any sample seed to be sent to any laboratory in the case Whatever the Respondent/Complainant had, was sown. One could have appreciated the bonafides better, if sample from the crop was taken during the visit of Assistant Seed Officer of Petitioner “ N.S.C. and sent for analysis. Their failure is unexceptionable. In our view, it is the Petitioner Company which failed to comply with the provisions of Section 13(c) of the Act. By the time, complaint could be filed even this opportunity had passed. If the Petitioner Company was little more sensitive or alert to the complaint of the Respondent/Complainant, this situation might not have arisen. Petitioner has to pay for his insensitivity. The Respondent/Complainant led evidence of State's agricultural authorities in support who made their statements after seeing the crop in the field. The onus passes on to the Petitioner to prove that the crop which grew in the field of the complainant was of 'Arkajyothi' of which the seed was sold and not of 'Sugar Body' as alleged. He cannot take shelter under Section 13(c) of the CP Act. Learned Counsel's plea that Respondent/Complainant should have kept portion of seeds purchased by him to be used for sampling purposes, is not only unsustainable in law but to say the least, is very unbecoming of a leading Public Sector Seed Company to expect this arrangement."
16. In the case of Haryana Seeds Development Corpn. Ltd v Sadhu and another, (2005) 3 Supreme Court Cases 198, Honble Supreme Court has observed thus :-
"12. Having considered the rival contentions of the parties, in our opinion, all the appeals deserve to be allowed and the orders passed by the District Forum, confirmed by the State Commission and the National Commission deserve to be set aside. From the record it is abundantly clear that the appellant had constituted an Expert Committee. The said Committee had undertaken the exercise of inspection of seeds sold to farmers. It conducted field inspection and detailed report had been prepared. The Committee observed that crop condition varied from "satisfactory to excellent". It further observed that the reason for variation was other than the quality of seeds. The Committee stated :
Hence the variation in the condition of crop in the same lot of seed at different fields may not be attributed to quality of seed but the other factors including high salt concentration, brackish water, moisture content at the sowing time, sowing method and soil physical conditions, which also play a major role in germination of seed and crop stand."
13. In the operative part, the Committee concluded :-
"It may be concluded that variation in the condition of the crop may not be attributed to the quality of seed but it may be due to other factors including water quality used for irrigation, long dry spell, salt accumulation in surface layer, sowing methodology, moisture content at the sowing time and soil physical condition."
17. In the case of MAHYCO Seeds Ltd. Vs. G. Venkata Subba Reddy and Ors., III (2011) CPJ 99 (NC), Honble National Commission has observed thus :-
"9. The Report of the Agricultural Officer who has opined that the crops failed due to genetic failure of the seeds is ambiguous. As already pointed out by Counsel for Petitioner, in the first place, it is in evidence that the inspection was conducted after the harvesting was over and as observed by the Joint Director (Agriculture) a senior authority, at this stage any assessment of defects in the seeds is not possible. The report itself is full of contradictions because while it states in one place that the germination is good, it does not adequately spell out the reasons for the so-called failure of the crops. In any case, genetic defect in seeds cannot be detected through visual inspections and would need to be tested in a scientific laboratory. We also note that there is adequate evidence on record that the Respondent did not take due care in adhering to the recommended schedule for planting the seeds, as also the type of land which is best suited for cotton seeds. Respondent's action in not informing the Petitioner about the so-called failure of the seeds and not involving him in the inspections also make his case further suspect. On the other hand, there is credible evidence that the seeds were tested and certified for genetic purity in a Government of India recognized laboratory and no evidence was led by Respondent to contradict these findings of the laboratory. Further, the onus to prove the defects in the seeds was not on the Petitioner but on the Respondent. This point has been squarely covered in a number of rulings of this Commission as well as the order of the Apex Court in Haryana Seeds Development Corporation Ltd. v. Sadhu and Anr., II (2005) CPJ 13 (SC)=II (2005) SLT 569."
18. In the case of MAHYCO Seeds Ltd. vs Subhash Shrihari Devkore and Ors., III (2013) CPJ 150, Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Mumbai, has observed thus:-
"17. These Panchanamas also does not reflect any specific opinion of officers about the purity of Jawar seeds. Both Panchnamas appear that it were prepared as per say of the complainants. Moreover these Panchanamas reflect that as per the say of the complainants the Jawar crops were affected by disease and therefore there was no expected growth. Panchanama dated 31.03.3007 reflects that when the complainants had contacted the representative of opponent company they were asked to spray Biozyme and D.A.P. pesticides. Further Panchanama dated 12.4.2007 prepared by Revenue Circle Inspector, Petwadaj clearly reflects that Jawar crops were affected by a disease and accordingly he has mentioned that crops are affected by disease. Thus, on any count both the Panchanamas are not at all useful for the complainants. On the contrary, both these Panchanamas falsify the contention of complainants that seeds were defective and opponent company has committed deficiency in service, etc. But it appears from the impugned judgment and order that District Consumer Forum without appreciating all these facts jumped to the wrong conclusion that Jawar seed which were supplied by opponent company to the complainants were defective and further opponent company committed deficiency in service. Such erroneous findings cannot be sustained.
18. Lastly, orally as well as by submitting additional written notes of arguments, Mr. Lavekar, learned Counsel for the complainants alternatively submitted to remand the matters back to the District Consumer Forum directing to decide afresh by obtaining expert evidence and giving opportunity of hearing to both sides. According to him as per the Government Circular the seed committee though required to inspect the field in presence of the representative of opponent company, the Guidelines given in the circular are not mandatory and therefore on such technical ground complainants should not suffer. But for the forgoing reasons that Panchanamas prepared by Agriculture Development Officer and Seeds Quality Control Inspector as well as Revenue Circle Inspector are not legal, submission of Mr. Lavekar that complainant's claim cannot be dismissed on technical ground, cannot be sustained. As far as his request for remanding of matter is concerned, he has also tried to support his submission by relying on decision of National Commission in the case of J.K. Agri-Genetics and Ors. V. Siddula Ramesh, etc., 2008 (1) CPR 42 (NC) and decision dated 23.2.2011 of this Commission in M/s Nirmitee Biotech v. Shri Anandrao Namdev Patil. But with due respect both these citations of National Commission as well as these State Commission cannot be applicable to the present cases as the facts are quite different. In the present cases, as sample of disputed Jawar seeds is not preserved, now it is not possible to obtain any expert report. Considering the facts of the present cases in our view it will be futile to remand back the matters to District Consumer Forum. Therefore, submission of Mr. Lavekar, learned Counsel for the complainants to remand the matters cannot be considered."
19. Learned District Forum in paragraph No.12 of the impugned order has held that the respondent No.1 (complainant) is only entitled for the getting rate as declared by the State Government for Swarna paddy for the year 2010-11. In paragraph 15 of the impugned order, the District Forum, further held that according to the declared rate by the State Government for Swarna Paddy for the year 2010-11 the respondent No.1 (complainant) is entitled for getting compensation for 26.17 qtls. of swarna paddy.
20. The Deputy Director Agriculture, Durg also submitted his report to the effect that the respondent No.1 (complainant) obtained 26.17 qtls. less quantity production than the prescribed quantity production of swarna paddy seeds. Therefore, the finding recorded by the District Forum is according to the law and does not suffer from any illegality or irregularity and does not call for any interference of this Commission.
21. Therefore, the appeal filed by the appellant (O.P.No.2) being devoid of any merits, deserves to be and is hereby dismissed. No order as to the cost of this appeal.