NCDRC | If a farmer suffers crop loss due to the usage of herbicides bought from a dealer or manufacturer of agri-inputs, can he claim a loss for crop damage? Read Commission’s reasoning

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Anup K. Thakur (Presiding Member) dismissed the revision petition while upholding the State Commission’s order.

Respondent/Complainant had sown sugarcane. He purchased herbicides from petitioner 1/OP 1. It was submitted that after the usage of the said herbicide the crop started to suffer severe damage.

In view of the above occurrence, Sub Divisional Agriculture Officer was informed, after which inspection of the affected crop was carried out and a report was submitted.

Consumer complaint seeking compensation of Rs 1,60,000 on account of crop damage was filed.

What was District Commission’s decision?

Circular of Deputy Director of Agriculture was not complied with while constituting the inspection team was a mere inadvertence and did not suggest any malafide intention. In any case, it was an irregularity and on this ground, equity and natural justice could not be denied to the complainant. So reasoning, it allowed the complaint to the extent of Rs.72,850/-, this being the loss on account of 235 quintals of sugarcane in one acre land @ Rs.310/- per quintal, with interest of 9% from the date of filing of the complaint.

 The above reasoning was upheld by the State Commission.

Analysis and Decision

On perusal of the facts and circumstances of the case, Bench opined that no ground for revision of the State Commission’s order was required.

Bench observed that an internal circular of Deputy Director of Agriculture was circulated regarding the composition of the inspection team for the purpose of smooth functioning of the Department of Agriculture in its subordinate filed offices for fulfilling its role of assisting the farmers, including taking prompt action on any complaint as is in the present matter.

On noting the above, the Commission stated that:

To not have included a representative of the OPs was, at worst, an irregularity.

The fact in the present matter was that there was a crop loss and the complainant farmer did therefore had to suffer loss and the inspecting team found the loss to be largely due to the use of herbicides.

Commission added to its reasoning that the business entities viz. dealers, manufacturers of agri-inputs (seeds, herbicides) carry a special responsibility. They are expected to properly inform the farmer and follow up after sale, to ensure that the farmer has understood and is following all the instructions.

In the present case, dealer ought to not have waited for an invitation to join the inspection team if it was already aware of the complaint through information furnished by the complainant. He should have been proactive rather than reactive.

The same goes for the manufacturers of agri-inputs: their dealers should be properly trained to ensure that they see their job as not merely one selling but as providing after-sale service through regular follow up.

With regard to the revisionary jurisdiction, Bench referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Rubi (Chandra) Dutta v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (2011) 11 SCC 269.

Hence, in view of the above discussion, Bench dismissed the revision petitions. [Adama Agan Ltd. v. Ramesh, 2021 SCC OnLine NCDRC 3, decided on 18-01-2021]

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