Mumbai: Consumer gets one lakh for spotting fly in oil

A South Mumbai resident has been awarded Rs 1 lakh in compensation by the South Mumbai Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission after the court held that a refined oil manufacturer had sold him a bottle of oil containing a dead fly.

Sam Lakdawala regularly purchased Gemini’s refined Sunflower Oil from Parakh Foods Ltd, based in Pune. On October 18, 2005, as was his usual practice, Lakdawala purchased a 500 ml bottle of oil for Rs 28.80. He noticed that a “fly-like” creature was floating inside the bottle and showed the bottle to representatives of the seller and the manufacturer, Cargill India Pvt Ltd.

Lakdawala alleged in his complaint to the court on January1, 2006, that the company was not maintaining the quality of its products and was not bothered about its customers’ health. He had the bottle sent to ITLAB, Fort for analysis of the bottle’s contents on December 31, 2008. By January 2, 2009, the laboratory had concluded that there was a “black-coloured fly-like creature present in the bottle.”

The company however, sought to disprove the lab’s findings, claiming that since the product was perishable and had already deteriorated beyond its shelf life, the test report was unreliable. Lakdawala retorted that the oil’s quality was irrelevant as the fly was already in the bottle before it was sealed. The company also argued that Lakdawala had not suffered any loss or injury due to the fly’s presence in the bottle.

The bench comprising President UV Jawalikar and member SS Patil held that Lakdawala had proved that he had suffered both a financial loss of around Rs 30 and had been in “mental agony” since 2005. The court ordered the company to refund Rs 30 to Lakdawala, along with the Rs 393 he spent on the lab test, with a 10 per cent interest thereon from 2009.

“[They] are also directed to pay a compensation of Rs 1,00,000 to the complainant for mental agony caused to him because of defective goods sold to him,” the bench ordered on March 15. 

Did you know?
The modern concept of negligence originates from a landmark British judgement from 1932, Donoghue vs Stevenson. May Donoghue had ordered an ice cream float for herself at a cafe in Renfrewshire. When her accompanying friend poured out the bottle’s contents, she found a decomposed snail in it. Donoghue eventually suffered a severe bout of gastro. The court had held that the manufacturer had a “duty of care” to ensure snails didn’t find their way into his bottles.

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