A Maharashtra farmer is set to get back Rs.1.3 lakh – the price of his defective tractor – with the top consumer court pulling up the tractor maker for deficiency in service as it needed repairs within days of leaving the showroom.
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Presiding Member V.B. Gupta and Member Rekha Gupta ruled in favour of Anant Haridas Choudhari, a farmer from Osmanabad district, and said the recurring problems with the vehicle “speak for themselves”.
The national commission rejected the plea of manufacturer SAS Motors that the farmer should not have been compensated as no expert opinion was taken to support the contention that the vehicle was suffering from a manufacturing defect.
V.B. Gupta, in a recent order, said: “When there were so many defects which started occurring within 12 days of the purchase of the tractor and, as the job cards confirmed, that the same defects had to be rectified by the dealer, the facts speak for themselves.”
The company “is directed to pay Rs.1.31 lakh with 9 percent per annum interest from Feb 9, 2005 (the date of purchase). The company has to pay Rs.15,000 towards compensation and cost,” said the national commission, endorsing the state consumer commission’s order.
During the hearing on the company’s revision petition, counsel for the manufacturer said that no expert opinion had been taken over the purported manufacturing defects; so the state commission’s order was erroneous.
“In the circumstances, we find that no expert advice is required to be obtained by Choudhari. If the company felt it was imperative” it could have pleaded for this before the state commission, the national commission said.
“In view of the foregoing reasons, we find that there is no jurisdictional error, illegality or infirmity in the order passed by the state commission warranting our interference. The revision petition is accordingly dismissed with cost of Rs.10,000,” the national commission said.
The company “is directed to pay Rs.5,000 to the farmer directly by way of demand draft and the balance Rs.5,000 be deposited by way of demand draft in the name of ‘Consumer Legal Aid Account’ of this commission” by Aug 23.
“In case the company fails to deposit the said amount within the prescribed period, then it shall be liable to pay interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum till realisation,” the national commission said.
The state commission, while rejecting the company’s contention, considered that the vehicle was admittedly taken to the dealer for repeated repairs immediately after purchase. Instead of free servicing, Choudhari was required to pay for rectifying many defects.
The company admitted that it tried to repair the tractor by going to his village. “This itself shows that the tractor was not of the quality as advertised,” the state commission said.
“Immediately after purchase of the vehicle, the farmer was compelled to take the tractor to the dealer many times for repairs. This fact shifts the burden on the tractor maker to prove that though repairs were carried out they were not manufacturing defects,” the state commission said.
The farmer also issued a legal notice which the company did not reply to, the commission noted.
“Choudhari was constrained to leave the tractor with company as it was not in a condition to be used. Therefore, we are of the view that a brand new tractor immediately after purchase was found to have manufacturing defects. This is an unfair trade practice to supply the vehicle with defects,” the state commission said.