ITC Foods Faces Rs 1 Lakh Penalty for Missing Biscuit: Consumer Court Ruling
In a surprising legal outcome, ITC Ltd., a prominent player in the fast-moving consumer goods market, found itself in a costly situation when a Tamil Nadu consumer court ordered its subsidiary, ITC Foods Limited, to pay a substantial Rs 1 lakh to a dissatisfied customer due to a missing biscuit in a pack of ‘Sun Feast Marie Light’. This unusual incident unfolded during a routine shopping trip at a Reliance Smart supermarket in Attaver, Mangaluru, leaving shoppers pondering the real cost of a biscuit.
The complainant, Mr. P. Dillibabu from Chennai, raised concerns about the Sunfeast Marie Light biscuit packets, alleging that they contained only 15 biscuits instead of the advertised 16. This discrepancy prompted Mr. Dillibabu to file a formal complaint, resulting in a District Consumer Court ruling in his favor, awarding him Rs 1 Lakh in compensation.
The District Consumer Forum in Tamil Nadu not only mandated the monetary compensation but also directed ITC Ltd’s Food Division to cease the sale of the disputed batch of ‘Sunfeast Marie Light’ biscuits, specifically those with Batch No. 0502C36. This case underscores the significance of accurate product labeling and its impact on consumer behavior and satisfaction.
ITC’s defense, which argued that the issue was related to the weight of the biscuits rather than their quantity, was dismissed by the court. The court emphasized that product information on the packaging, including the number of biscuits, significantly influences consumer buying decisions. Consequently, the court held ITC responsible for unfair trade practices and a deficiency in service due to the discrepancy in the number of biscuits in the package.
In its defense, ITC pointed to the Legal Metrology Rules of 2011, stating that if a pre-packaged commodity has a declared net quantity between 50 gm and 100 gm, a maximum permissible error of 4.5 gm in excess or deficiency of the declared quantity is allowed. According to these rules, a package with a declared weight of 76 g could weigh between 71.5 gm and 80.5 gm.
This case serves as a notable example of the legal intricacies surrounding consumer rights and product labeling regulations, highlighting the importance of transparency and accuracy in the consumer goods industry.