Chandigarh: Firm, seller in soup for selling expired biscuits
Coming down heavily for “adopting unfair trade practice by selling the product to the consumer beyond the expiry date”, the commission has imposed a fine of ₹20,000 on Rudrapur-based Britannia Industries Limited
Nearly six years after a four-year-old girl was sold two packets of expired biscuits in Mansa Devi Complex, Sector 5, Panchkula, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has penalised the biscuit manufacturer and a retailer.
Coming down heavily for “adopting unfair trade practice by selling the product to the consumer beyond the expiry date”, the commission has imposed a fine of ₹20,000 on Rudrapur-based Britannia Industries Limited, to be paid to the legal aid account of Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
The retailer, Bhawani Enterprises, has been directed to pay the complainant ₹10,000 as compensation for causing mental agony and harassment, refund ₹35 that were paid for the biscuits, along with 9% interest, and ₹5,500 as litigation cost.
Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Pipliwala town, Manimajra, had submitted before the commission that his four-year-old daughter had purchased two packets of biscuits for ₹35 from Bhawani Enterprises on September 2017.
He later realised that the biscuits had already expired, as they were manufactured on December 30, 2016, and were to consumed before six months from the date of packing.
When he approached the shop to replace the packets, the proprietor turned him down and misbehaved with him.
False and misleading complaint: seller
Terming the complaint “false and misleading”, Bhawani Enterprises submitted before the commission that the biscuit stocks were checked on a weekly basis for validity by the distributor’s salesman as well as a representative of Britannia.
Subsequently, any expired or damaged stocks were returned to the distributor on a monthly basis. So, there was no possibility of any expired product lying in the shop. Also, it was not believable that, a girl aged four would have come to the shop at Sector 5, Mansa Devi Complex, from her residence in Manimajra to purchase two packets of biscuits.
Britannia Industries Ltd, Rudrapur, were proceeded against ex parte as no one appeared on their behalf them despite notice.
No doubt that expired biscuits were sold: Commission
“We have no doubt of any kind in any manner that Bhawani Enterprises sold the packets of biscuits in question beyond their expiry date and thus, adopted unfair trade practice,” said the consumer commission, adding that it was immaterial as to how the daughter of the complainant, aged four, visited the shop from her residence.
“Britannia Industries Limited is also liable for deficiency as well as adoption of unfair trade practice as it had permitted its distributor to sell the expired product through retailers,” said the commission, while holding both the manufacturer as well as the seller “liable to compensate the complainant”.
The manufacturer and seller were further directed to take adequate precautions while selling their products to the public, and in future, both will refrain from selling products beyond the expiry date.