BALDEV SINGH SEKHON,MEMBER -
(1.) THIS appeal has been filed by the appellant/ opposite party No.1 against the order dated 13.10.2011 passed by District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Bathinda (in short "District Forum"), vide which the complaint of the respondent/ complainant was allowed against appellant/opposite party No. 1 with Rs.25.000/ - as costs and compensation and dismissed qua opposite party No.2. The complainant was directed to return the Paddy Transplanter machine - to opposite party No. 1 within 15 days from the date of receipt of copy of the, order and opposite party No. 1 was directed to refund Rs. 1,20,000/ - to the complainant and Rs. 1,00,000/ - to Department of Agriculture, from which it was received as subsidy, within 30 days from the date of receipt of Paddy Transplanter from the complainant. 2. Briefly stated, the facts of the case are that the complainant was a farmer and used to cultivate his land with mechanised implements.
(2.) IT was pleaded that opposite party No.2 recommended Paddy Transplanter machine, Model 22T8238 costing Rs. 2,50,000/ -, which was to be sold by opposite party No. 1 and offered subsidy of Rs. 1,00,000/ - on it. Opposite party No.l made tall claims regarding its functioning and helping the farmers in paddy transplantation without the help of labour. On the allurement of the opposite parties, the complainant purchased one such machine from opposite party No.l for a sum of Rs. 2,50,000/ -, against bill/ invoice dated 10.6.2009 and paid Rs. 1,50,000/ - vide receipt No. 1303 and 1207 and the remaining amount of Rs. 1.0 lac was paid by opposite party No. 2 as subsidy. It was averred that the said Paddy Transplanter machine proved to be a failure in the fields due to which he and other farmers, who purchased the machines, were put to an irreparable loss. So, they resorted to staging 'dharnas' against daylight looting of agriculturists by opposite party No.l. News items were also published in various newspapers. Opposite party No.2 also visited the fields of the complainant and other farmers and prepared exhaustive report dated 20.6.2009 abut the failure of the machine and adoption of unfair trade practice by opposite party No.l, which was submitted to the Government. Even a criminal case was lodged against it with the police. It was further pleaded that the complainant was to sow paddy in 30 acres and got prepared the paddy nursery plants in two acres. But same was transplanted only in 5 acres with the help of the said machine. However, the plants vanished within two days. Opposite party No.2 also visited the spot and found that Paddy Transplanter was not going deep enough, so, the plants withered away. In the process, complainant suffered a loss of Rs. 7,50,000/ - detailed as under: -
Loss of paddy crop in 30 acres : Rs.3,50,000/ - Loss of plants of paddy : Rs.50,000/ - Labour and oil consumption : Rs. 1,00,000/ - Cost of machinery : Rs.2,50,000/ -
He approached the opposite party No. 1 to pay the said amount but it refused to do so. Therefore, he filed complaint before the District Forum for issuing directions to it to pay him Rs.7,50,000/ - alongwith interest @ 18% per annum alongwith Rs. 12,500/ -. as costs of complaint.
(3.) UPON notice, opposite .party No.l, in its written reply, pleaded that the complaint was filed "before the District Forum after more than two years of purchase of the said machine and hence, the same was not maintainable being time barred. It was further pleaded that the complainant had not explained as to what was the problem in the performance of the machine except that it proved to be a failure which was patently a false allegation because the machine, in question, was allowed to be. sold in.the market by the State Government -after thorough examination and after its practical usage conducted by technical experts'. On examination by experts, the machine was found to be quite effective and its performance was found to be "good". It also invited farmers to see the demonstrations of its working which were conducted at various places. The complainant also attended two of such demonstrations and he himself planted paddy using the "demo machine" of the company. After being fully satisfied with its performance, he decided to book the machine. It was necessary to adhere to the specifications and procedure recommended by Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, regarding plantation of paddy and use of "mat type nursery" for effective usage and best results. The machine was carrying two years warranty from the date of its purchase and the complainant never approached it with any kind of problem or technical defect in it. He rather preferred to make complaint to the police and to approach the District Forum just to black Mail and to secure undue monetary gain from it. It was averred that it had sold a number of machines in the State, including about 30 machines in Bathinda District only. These machines were working very well and had given better returns to the farmers, who had given written certificates to that effect.
Opposite party No.2, in its written reply, pleaded that complainant purchased the said machine directly from opposite party No. 1 and it only provided subsidy of Rs. -1 ,00,000/ -. It was also pleaded that some complaints were received from farmers about the Paddy Transplanters, so it constituted a 3 member Expert Committee to enquire into the matter; which, after visiting the fields of the farmers, gave its report to the effect that most of the Paddy Transplanters were not working as per specifications. Their report was submitted to higher authorities of Punjab Government. The complaints of the farmers were submitted to Senior Superintendent of Police, Bathinda for taking necessary action according to law. However, latest position of police enquiry was not known. It was also pleaded that the duty of the Department of Agriculture was to help the farmers by providing technical guidance and to provide subsidies on inputs and implements. The complainant purchased the equipment directly from the firm at his own will. On the recommendation of the said committee, Punjab Government approved Rs.50,000/ - as additional compensation to the farmers. The complainant, thus, had been paid Rs. 1.0 lac as subsidy as well as Rs. 50,000/ - as compensation.;