Decided on March 11,2008

Anju Anand Appellant


- (1.) ORDER dated 27.8.2004 passed by the learned Divisional Consumer Forum, Jammu, (hereinafter to be referred to as the Forum) has been taken in appeal by the appellant, whose complaint, had been accepted but compensation in the sum of Rs. 1,500 only was granted in her favour along with interest at the rate of 9 % per annum from the date of filing the complaint (which was filed on 1.5.2003) till its realization. The relevant facts of the case in brief are that appellant herein on the medical prescription issued by Dr. Jaipal Kanotra, purchased tables of "Allegra" medicine from the shop of Respondent No. 2 for a sum of Rs 50.88 paise. On reaching home when she opened the pack of "Allegra" medicine tablets she found that package contained only three tablets in the aluminum foil which had a batch Number of 023010 and the manufacturing date was February 2003 and the expiry date was January 2005. On that packet the maximum retail price of the tablets for their sale was prescribed at Rs 48.12 paise with local taxes extra and it was mentioned that the package contained six tablets. On opening the packet, the appellant found that there were only three tablets therein. The appellant resides in the colony of "Channi Himat" of Jammu City. When this act of cheating was detected she came immediately to the shop of respondent No. 2 to sort out the matter, but nothing fruitful was done. Under these circumstances, she was compelled to file the complaint. Respondent No. 1 in its objections took the stand that complaint had been filed with an ulterior motive for extorting money because the batch of "allegra" tablets is being manufactured strictly in accordance with international standards and is tested and checked before its packing. It was denied that the package had only three tablets. However, it was also admitted that it could be a case of human error of the rarest of rare cases but there was no intention of cheating or de -frauding the appellant. An offer was made for the replacement of the packet. Lastly, it was pleaded that complaint required to be dismissed. Respondent No. 2 admitted the sale of tablets in question vide Bill No. 2231 dated 3.4.2003. It was stated that the outer pack of sold "allegra" tablets denoted that packet contained six tablets in number but due to some manufacturing fault it contained only three tablets. His plea was that vide Bill No. 298 dated 4.4.2003, he had purchased the said packet along with other packets from S.P.Medical Hall Agencies, Shalamar Road, Jammu. He denied his fault for effecting fraudulent sale but pleaded that the responsibility for "manufacturing defect" or "package defect" was of respondent No. 1. Appellant and respondent No. 2 had adduced the evidence but respondent No. 1 did not lead any evidence. After the appraisal of the evidence, the learned Forum has held that respondents were liable for carrying on unfair trade practice by selling and charging the price of six tablets of the packet of the medicine of "allegra" which in fact contained only three number of tablets. For such a purchase the appellant had suffered financial loss by paying visits to the shop of respondent No. 2 and she was entitled to receive compensation. After viewing the matter in such a perspective, compensation of Rs 1,500 wasawarded in favour of the appellant but the liability to make the payment was fixed on respondent No. 1 only. The appellant had felt aggrieved for the quantum of award and through the medium of this appeal, has challenged the order on the ground that she has been discriminated by the learned Forum because in a similar case for the sale of defective cold drink bottle costing Rs. 10 a compensation in the sum of Rs. 25,000 had been awarded, but in the present case when the price of "Allegra" tablets had been charged in the amount of Rs. 50.88 a small amount of compensation in the sum of Rs. 15,000 has been awarded. The Forum has failed to take notice of the fact that appellant had engaged a lawyer to pursue her case and as per the set norms for charging the professional fee fixed by the State as well as by the Central Government for paying the Counsel's fee she had made payment in thousands and not in hundreds. She resides in the colony of Channi Himat, which is situated 15 Kms. away from the place where the Forum sits. She has undergone great financial losses and suffered emotional and mental torture.
(2.) HEARD the arguments.
(3.) THE learned Counsel appearing for the appellant has strenuously contended that it was a proved case of unfair trade practice and the learned Forum has failed to appreciate this fact while making an award of paltry amount of Rs 1,500. The learned Counsel appearing for respondent No. 1 has pleaded that it was a case of human error and there was no intention to carry unfair trade practice. We have considered the respective contentions of learned Counsel appearing for the parties. From the record, we find that respondent No. 1 in its written version had taken the stand that appellant had acted for extraneous and irrelevant consideration with an ulterior motive of extorting money from respondent No. 1. It was also pleaded that "Allegra" tablets in question had been manufactured strictly in accordance with international standards and tested and checked before packing them. It was denied that there could be any error in its packing then. After stating so in an authoritarian and commanding manner it made an offer for the exchange of the packet of Allegra in question with new one containing six tablets as in its view it could be a human error committed in one of rarest of rare cases. After making such declarations based on high moral standards and professional competency a volte face was committed by not producing any evidence in support thereof. On the contrary, the appellant had succeeded in proving that outer packing of "Allegra" tablets clearly denoted that inside there were six tablets in number but actually there were only three tablets. This fact has even been established by the testimony of respondent No. 2, who had sold the medicine in question to the appellant. In normal human behaviour it was expected that respondent No. 2 should have satisfied the appellant by redressing her grievance to her full satisfaction but a recalcitrant attitude was adopted to cause more hurt to her dignity and honour. Naturally, as an awakened self respecting consumer she was left withno option but to approach the Forum by making the complaint and ultimately succeeded in proving that it was a case of carrying out unfair trade and practice. A manufacturing firm of medicines is under rigorous legal and moral duty to keep the quality of its product equal to the prescribed standards and being sold in the market at the fixed price as determined by the authorities. In this case we have failed to understand how the Drug Controller of the Health Department had allowed the sale of such a drug which was of spurious nature in respect of the quantity shown in the packet. The practice of allowing the unfair trade has the inherent nature of causing financial losses to the consumers who are inflicted with diseases. Such a human conduct can be viewed as fiendish and most represensible. The Drugs Control Department should rise to the occasion for its eradication. Right to live a quality life is a recognized right under the Indian Constitution and equally to receive the quality health care from the State is its essential component. The credit goes to the appellant herein who has exposed the morbidity of a Pharmaceutical Firm of repute who had succeeded in selling such a packet of medicine Which could not be sold in the open market had the Drugs Control Department being performing its duty diligently and honestly.;

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