Sometimes we come across adulterated food items causing serious health issues and ailments and even death in some cases. We hardly want to take up the matter against the manufacturers/trader in the Court.
But do you know that as a consumer you are entitled to sue the manufacturer/trader in a Consumer Court seeking compensation for the incurred losses as well take the matter even to the Criminal Court.
In my experience so far, I have been approached by a couple of consumers. The first one had purchased one of the most popular soft drink which had clearly visible dust particles. Upon further analysis done by the Public Analyst the item was declared as adulterated. The second case, in which the consumer had purchased a bottle of refined oil containing a dead lizard in it and hence was considered unfit for consumption.
This analysis was done on the advise of the Criminal Court and the Consumer Court and I had the opportunity to represent both the cases in these two Courts.
We must be aware about the laws and the next steps to take shelter against such manufacturers/traders besides seeking any Compensation in lieu of incurred losses. As per the law, the faulty manufacturers/traders can be subjected to penalizing/punishment/sentence to imprisonment, life imprisonment or even sentence to death.
We at Power to Consumer feel it is our responsibility to spread awareness that the Consumers are empowered with the provisions of the Consumer Protection act, 1986 (also known as COPRA). Under this act, the Consumers can be compensated adequately against their losses/injuries caused due to use of such spurious and adulterated food items. Not only this, the manufacturers/traders can be subjected to heavy punishment by the Criminal Court on the basis Consumer Court’s findings.
It also opens the door to look into the matter whether the Manufacturers/Traders have committed offence under the provision of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 for causing any loss due to consumption of adulterated food.
The food item is analysed by the Public Analyst to find if its adulterated or not under the jurisdiction u/s 13 (1) (c) of COPRA to send such goods for its Analysis by the Public Analyst. They are vested for the purpose under Section 12 of the Prevention of Food adulteration act, 1954.
Although the Consumer Court of India is responsible for hearing all matters within the scope of Consumer Law, but the analysis and judicial review of the adulteration of ingredients is very well within the jurisdiction of the Consumer Courts.
The consumer can file a complaint under Sec. 12 of COPRA seeking adequate compensation in lieu of incurred loss. The allegations against the manufacturer/trader has to be framed under COPRA. As per the Report of the Public Analyst, one can sue the manufacturer/trader in a competent criminal court demanding punishment for them under provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.