Common Order: (Ravishankar, Judicial Member)
The appeal Nos.1654/2014 to 1678/2014 are filed by the appellant/Opposite Parties and the appeal Nos.732/2016 to 751/2016 are filed by the respondents/complainants being aggrieved by the order passed by the Bellary District Consumer Commission.
2. The subject matter involved in the above appeals are same. The Opposite Parties in appeal Nos.732/2016 to 751/2016 who were the appellants in appeal Nos.1654/2014 to 1678/2014 are same. The appeal Nos.1654/2014 to 1678/2014 are filed by the appellant/Opposite Parties to set-aside the impugned order and the appeal Nos.732/2016 to 751/2016 are filed by the respondent/complainants to enhance the compensation awarded by the District Commission under the impugned order. Hence, for the sake of convenience, all these appeals are taken up together to pass a common order.
3. For the sake of convenience the parties herein are referred to by their respective rank as arrayed before the District Commission.
4. The brief facts of the complaint are as under:-
The complainants are the farmers who have purchased Nidhi Kranthi 999 hybrid sun flower seeds from Opposite Party No.1 which was manufactured by Opposite Party No.2 and sowed the seeds in their respective lands after proper tilling with adequate place between each plant and managed the crop under the guidelines of Agricultural Department and that the climatic conditions were suitable for sun flower crop. Apart from that, the agencies/Opposite Party No.1 also assured the complainants at the time of purchase of the seeds that the seeds were very good quality and would yield about 10-12 quintals per acre. Accordingly, the complainants took all care to cultivate the land by putting proper pesticides as and when required as per the instructions given by the first appellant. After sowing, the complainants observed that there was no proper growth of sun flower plants. Immediately, they intimated the same to the 1st appellant/Opposite Party No.1, but the 1st appellant/Opposite Party No.1 did not care to respond to the complainants. Thereafter, the complainants have given a letter to the Agricultural Officer, Sandur to visit the lands and inspect the growth of seeds. Accordingly, the Agricultural Officer, Sandur visited the land and inspected the yield and intimated that there is a failure of crop due to poor germination of seeds sold by 1st appellant/Opposite Party No.1. The complainant also intimated the Gram Panchayath Members and accordingly, the Gram Panchayath members have made panchanama about the defective sun flower seeds. The Agricultural Officer has also intimated the University of Agricultural Science, Raichur, Agricultural research station Hagari and they visited the Madapura and Hosa Dharoji Village and after inspecting, they gave a report to Director of Research, University of Agricultural Sciences Raichur who in turn wrote a letter to the Joint Director of Agriculture Bellary and in the letter it is very much clearly mentioned that the sun flower seeds did not yield properly. Hence, there is a crop failure due to poor quality of sun flower seeds. After knowing all these facts, the complainant issued a legal notice to Opposite Party Nos. 1 & 2 to pay a compensation for the loss suffered by them alleging deficiency in service. After receipt of the legal notice, the Opposite Parties have not settled the claim. Subsequently, the complainants filed the complaints before the District Commission, Bellary claiming compensation for loss of crop.
5. After service of notice, the Opposite Parties in all the complaints have appeared through their counsel and filed the version and took a contention that the complaints filed are motivated misconceived and the complainants have not approached the District Commission with clean hands and hence prays for dismissal of the complaints. The Opposite Party No.1 is further contended that the 2nd Opposite Party is an agricultural professionalist having good name and fame throughout south India having master degree in genetics and plant breeding. The research hybrid seeds were being tested and recognized by the reputed Agricultural Universities, Hyderabad and the University of Agricultural Science Dharwad. They are supplying the sun flower Hybrid-Kranthi-999 seeds in Bellary District for the last several years successfully. The sun flower is a short duration crop which fits into any cropping rotation patterns and grows well in variety of soils. It is grown with very less water photo insensitive crop and sowing time should be adjusted by the farmers. The crop comes to flowering at a moderate minimum and maximum temperatures to get maximum percentage seed set resulting in higher seed yield. The sun flower crop flowers will come between 62-70 days and would end in 110 days duration after sowing. The seed setting can be observed after 75 days of sowing. Fungal diseases like powdery mildew, Alternaria also play a vital role in reducing leaf area index (LAI), hence less percentage of seed set.
6. The Opposite Party further contended that the complainants have purchased the seeds in the month of November – 2012 and sowed at the beginning of the December. The Opposite Party further contended that the Agriculture Department can refer the leaf samples to analyze through D.N.A.finger printing technique, which is ultimate to analyze any genetic variation. If the samples in question are not up-to the mark or standard, then the agricultural department may ask the company to explain and do compensate the losses to the extent of difference by estimating the yields of 3 previous years in a particular Taluk. But they have neither informed nor was made a party in the study of the complaint at the new Dharoji and Madapura Villages. After receipt of the complaint they have deputed representatives to inspect the crop at new Dharoji and Madapura Villages along with dealers, who in-turn visited the sun flower fields and found that early sown plots are quite good and at physiological maturity stage and ready for harvesting with good yielding and they observed that the seeds were being attacked by powdery mildew which reduces photosynthesis and as such food material is sufficient up-to 40-60% seed filling the rest seed may turn illfilled/chuffy seeds, most of the farmers stopped the water supply to the fields by seeing drizzling of rain which wetted only flowers and leaves but not irrigated the soil resulting in pollen wash out and desiccation and the same led to reduce seed set in some fields which co-incide with low temperature during first week of January to 16th of February 2013.
6(a) The Opposite Parties further contended that the report given by University of Agricultural Sciences Raichur and Agricultural Research Station Hagari clearly shows that they visited 15 fields which were affected seed set percentage in a random but not all the fields of sun flower crop in the said villages. The report is not based on the scientific methods, as required to be followed only due to the fault of the complainant in late sowing of seeds drizzling of rain in flowering season, not giving sufficient water and attacking of powdery mildew to the crop the yield was reduced and not due to the fault of the seeds. Hence, prays for dismissal of the complaints.
7. After trial, the District Commission allowed the complaints. Being aggrieved by the said order the appellant/Opposite Parties are in appeals.
8. The complainants are also filed the appeal Nos.732-750/2016 against the same order being not satisfied with the award passed by the District Commission. They stated in the memorandum of appeal that they have suffered a loss to the tune of 40-60% and at the time of their yield, the market value is Rs.5,000/- per acre. Hence, prays to enhance the compensation awarded by the District Commission.
9. We have heard the arguments from both sides.
10. On going through the memorandum of appeal in the above appeals and certified copy of the each complaints, it is an admitted fact that the sun flower which grown by the complainants have not given yield 100%. In this regard, the report produced by the complainants which was given by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur Agricultural Research Station, Hagari has categorically established that there is a loss of yield to the tune of 30-40%. The complainants have alleged that the said loss was due to the defect in the seeds which were not germinated properly in spite of providing sufficient manure, fertilizers and supervising, whereas the appellants in appeal Nos.1654-1678/2014 submit that the complainants have purchased the seeds in the month of December 1st week. In fact the weeds were to be sowed in the month of October, whereas they have overwritten the bill to reflect as it they purchased in the month of October and sowed within time.
11. The learned counsel for appellants in appeal Nos.1654-1678/2014 vehemently argued that the complainants have not supervised the sun flower crop. The said sun flower crop will come between 62-70 days after sowing and the seed setting can be observed after 75 days of the sowing, whereas in these complaints, the seeds were attacked by fungal diseases like powdery mildew. The said fungal diseases attacked to the crop due to non supply of water to the plants and weather condition and they have not sold defective seeds to the complainants. Hence, submits to set-aside the order passed by the District Commission in the all the complaints.
12. Anyhow it is admitted that the loss to the tune of 30-40% was caused to the farmers. The report has categorically mentioned the loss is not only due to powdery mildew, but also due to lack of seed setting to an extent of 30-40% and gave an opinion which reduced yield the said lack of seed setting to the extent of 30-40% which may reduced the yield levels. Hence, considering the said opinion given by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur Agricultural Research Station, Hagari, the District Commission has rightly awarded the compensation to each farmers to be payable by the Opposite Parties. Hence, we found no merits in the appeal Nos.1654-1678/2014. Accordingly, the said appeals are liable to be dismissed.
13. Further, the complainants also preferred the appeal Nos.732-751/2016 for enhancement of the compensation and submits that they have suffered loss to the tune of Rs.8,000/- per quintal and accordingly they are entitled to g
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et Rs.64,000/- per acre as per the certificate given by the Village Accountant. The said claim for enhancement of the compensation cannot be accepted, because the complainants have failed to assess the exact loss suffered by them. It is only approximate loss assessed by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur Agricultural Research Station, Hagari. Hence, the District Commission has rightly awarded a compensation to be payable by the Opposite Parties. Hence, the appeal Nos.732-751/2016 are also liable to be dismissed. Accordingly, we proceed to pass the following:- :ORDER: The appeal Nos.1654-1678/2014 and appeal Nos.732-751/2016 are dismissed. No costs. The amount if any deposited in the appeal Nos.1654/2014 to 1678/2014 shall be transmitted to the concerned District Commission to pay the same to the respective respondent/complainant. The original of this order shall be kept in appeal No.1654/2014 and a copy thereof shall be kept in other connected appeals. Return the LCR if called to the concerned District Commission. Send a copy of this order to both parties as well as concerned District Commission.