Order awarding compensation for dead insects and fungus found inside a bottle of “Maaza”, upheld

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): While upholding the order of District Forum, Katni, M.P. awarding a compensation of Fifty Thousand Rupees to a person, who found dead insects and fungus inside a bottle of one the beverages of Coca Cola, NCDRC dismissed an appeal filed by the Managing Director of a Coca Cola’s manufacturing unit challenging the said order. Apart from the compensation, District Forum also awarded Rs.40/- towards bottles and Rs.500/- was also awarded as costs to the complainant. Earlier, the complainant, a practising advocate purchased two bottles of Mazaa Cold Drink manufactured by Coca Cola and paid Rs. 20/- for the bottles and deposited Rs.20/- as security for empty bottles on 25.05.2007. He consumed one bottle in the night and after 10-15 minutes; he felt uneasiness in the stomach, Vomiting, Diarrhoea and fainting sensation. When he was taken to the doctor, few pathological tests were conducted and the report thereof revealed that it was a case of food poisoning. He got three days’ treatment but felt weakness. While alleging that due to his sickness, he could not appear in judiciary exams for selection of civil judge and he suffered professional loss, mental agony and financial loss, complainant approached District Forum, Katni, M.P. District Forum allowed the complaint and an appeal in the matter filed by Coca Cola before State Commission, Madhya Pradesh was also dismissed. Before NCDRC, Managing Director of a Coca Cola’s manufacturing unit contended that Coca Cola Plant does not manufacture Mazaa Cold Drink and it is manufactured by Superior Drinks Pvt. Ltd, hence, he is not related to the case. It was further contended by him that there was no cogent evidence that whether the bottles were sealed or not. At this point, complainant brought the attention of the Commission to the order of District Forum, which had observed that second bottle was sealed one and sent for laboratory test. As per laboratory test report, there was fungus in the bottle. The complainant also produced the medical prescriptions and certificate issued by the doctor as well as the receipt of purchase of Mazaa. After thoughtful consideration, NCDRC observed that, “the complainant proved his case that the bottles, which, he had purchased, contaminated with fungus and other inorganic material. The medical certificate clearly proves that the patient was admitted, took the treatment for the same.” It was also observed by the Commission that as the complainant wished that the same compensation be deposited in the Consumer Legal Aid Account of National Commission for the welfare of consumer awareness, it is a good gesture of the prudent consumer. NCDRC also dismissed the contention of Coca Cola that there are rampant duplicate products proliferating in India, on the ground that Coca Cola or the marketing people should be vigilant to eliminate such counterfeit marketing. While observing that under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the duty of fora is to prevent innocent consumers from suffering unnecessarily, NCDRC dismissed the appeal and upheld the order of District Forum. [Vikas Mittal v. Mosoof Ahmed, 2016 SCC OnLine NCDRC 278, decided on May 4, 2016]

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