National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Ram Surat Maurya (Presiding Member) addressed a matter wherein Britannia was alleged to have pieces of plastic in its bread, but the complainant failed to prove that the bread was manufactured by the said company.
The present appeal was filed from the order of State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission allowing the complainant and holding them as guilty of compensating negligence in preparing the bread and directing to pay Rs 2.51 lakhs as compensation.
The complainant was a medical practitioner who purchased one packet of “Britannia Premium Bake Super Soft Deluxe Bread” for his guests including one child at his residence. When the bread was served for consumption, the complainant noticed a few plastic pieces embedded inside several slices.
In view of the above, the complainant prevented his guest from having the bread and lodged a complaint at the Mumbai office of the OP. The officer of the OP came to the residence of the complainant and on examining the slices confirmed that there were plastic pieces inside the slices.
On the complainant’s insistence, he was given in writing that “prima facie paper-like body was seen in a number of slices.”
After the analysis in laboratory, a letter was sent to the complainant wherein it was written that “It is possible that during production, a new unchecked mould might have found its way without cleaning by air-blast, which is the rarest of the incidence.”
When the complainant made several correspondences with the officers of the OP, they vide a letter disowned the packet of the bread, being the packet of the OP.
After protesting against the analysis report, the complainant did not receive any response and a complaint raising the allegation of negligence by OP was filed.
State Commission on perusal of the facts on record found the OP to be guilty of committing negligence in the manufacture of the bread.
Analysis and Decision
Commission on perusal of records noted that the complainant neither produced the wrapper of the bread nor sample of bread for its analytic report before the State Commission. The burden of proof was upon the complainant to prove that:
- The contaminated bread was manufactured by the appellant
- In this bread, foreign materials (plastic pieces) were found.
Coram expressed that,
State Commission based its findings on (i) as the officers of the appellant had collected the sample as such they were satisfied that the product belonged to the appellant and (ii) in the letter of Karmakar (senior officer of company) dated 18.05.2001, he had admitted the possibility of new unchecked mould might have found its way without cleaning by air-blast, during production. These two circumstances were not sufficient to record a finding that the appellant had manufactured contaminated bread.
Further, the appellant’s report was ignored as it was tested in its own laboratory.
On visual examination, some suspicion was noted by Karmakar and on its basis forming an opinion relating to contamination is not sufficient.
It was held that no evidence was found to prove that the bread sold contained plastic pieces, hence the appeal succeeded and was allowed.[Britannia Industries Ltd. v. Dr Surendra Ramkishan Dhelia, 2022 SCC OnLine NCDRC 12, decided on 3-1-2022]
Advocates before the Commission:
For the appellant: Sidharth Bawa, Advocate and Anuj Garg, Advocate
For the respondent: Nemo