Bisleri Asked To Pay Rs25,000 Compensation for Selling Contaminated Water, Deficiency in Service
Moneylife Digital Team 09 May 2024
While upholding the orders passed by fora below, the national consumer disputes redressal commission (NCDRC) directed Bisleri International Pvt Ltd to pay Rs25,000 compensation to a customer who was sold a Bisleri bottle with contaminated water.
 
In an order last month, the NCDRC bench of Dr Inder Jit Singh (presiding member) says, "We are in agreement with the findings of State Commission and District Commission as regard to deficiency in service on the part of OP-1 and grant of compensation to the complainant for such deficiency."
 
The bench, however, set aside the penalty of Rs25,000 to be paid to the Consumer Welfare Fund by Bisleri. "We are of the view that while consumer fora below have the power to order compensation to the complainant for the deficiency and decide the quantum of such compensation, the consumer fora cannot in addition, impose penalty on Bisleri for deposit in the Consumer Welfare Fund."
 
On 23 April 2018, Bharatpur, Rajasthan-based Mukesh Khandelwal bought four numbers of 5-litre bottles of Bisleri packaged drinking water from Sanjeev Enterprises, a district-level retailer of Bisleri, for personal use. He paid Rs200 and also obtained a bill from the seller. 
 
After consuming water from three bottles without issue, Mr Khandelwal discovered filth in the fourth bottle. Upon reporting this to Sanjeev Enterprises, the retailer, he was informed that the sold products could not be replaced. 
 
He alleged that Bisleri engages in unfair trade practices by selling impure and filthy water at high prices, misleading consumers through advertising. This, he claimed, constitutes both an unfair trade practice and a service fault, as it poses a risk to the health and safety of consumers while causing financial losses. 
 
Accusing Bisleri of knowingly endangering consumer health and financial well-being for profit, Mr Khandelwal filed a complaint before the Bharatpur district consumer disputes redressal commission. 
 
While allowing the complaint, on 5 February 2020, the district commission directed Bisleri to deposit Rs25,000 as a penalty in the Consumer Welfare Fund, pay Rs50 against the cost of one Bisleri bottle and Rs25,000 as compensation to Mr Khandelwal.
 
Aggrieved by the district commission's order, Bisleri filed an appeal before the Rajasthan state consumer disputes redressal commission. However, while upholding the district commission's order, the state commission dismissed the appeal filed by Bisleri.
 
The company then approached NCDRC. Bisleri contended that Mr Khandelwal should have contacted the company directly to provide an opportunity to examine the allegedly contaminated bottle. It says, "The complainant (Mr Khandelwal) did not present the bottle for examination before the district commission, thus failing to meet the burden of proof required by law. Without examination by expert witnesses before the bottle's expiration, it cannot be concluded that the water was contaminated." 
 
"There is no clarity about the origin of the foreign substance allegedly found in the bottle, suggesting the possibility of manual introduction. The expert reports could have ruled out such possibilities. The district commission and state commission failed to consider the potential for tampering with the bottle, which could introduce foreign substances and contaminate the water. The company's water is pure and does not contain any preservatives," it added.
 
The counsel for Bisleri also argued that Mr Khandelwal purchased the water bottles for resale and not for personal use. 
 
Nobody appeared for Mr Khandelwal during the hearing which made NCDRC proceed with the case ex-parte. 
 
The bench of Dr Singh observed that there are concurrent findings for both the fora below against Bisleri. 
 
Responding to Bisleri's allegation that the bottles were purchased for commercial purposes, NCDRC says the objection lacks substance-based evidence. "The invoice clearly indicates that the four 5-litre bottles of Bisleri were purchased by the complainant, Mukesh Chand Khandelwal, in his own name, not in the name of the Jeetu Provisional Store. Therefore, it cannot be inferred that the purchase was made for commercial purposes or for resale in the shop simply because the complainant operates a shop, Jeetu Provisional Store."
 
"Regarding the issue of the bottle being kept in the sun for six months, leading to the generation of fungus, no evidence has been provided to support this claim. It is unreasonable to assume that water would be kept in such conditions after purchase without any evidence to substantiate it. Furthermore, the presence of filth in the bottle was discovered within four months, as indicated by the complaint filed in August, within the six-month timeframe. This indicates a service fault on the part of Bisleri," the bench says.
 
As for the contention of having an expert witness, Dr Singh from NCDRC says Mr Khandelwal asserted that he noticed dirt and insects upon attempting to use the water from the fourth bottle. When he requested a replacement from the seller, it was refused. Subsequently, he had the water tested at the state central public health laboratory in Jaipur, where green algae was found in the sample, deeming it unsafe for human consumption.
 
"Given Bisleri's extensive advertising on the purity of its water, the discovery of filth is a serious concern. Considering this, the lower forums rightly ruled in favour of Mr Khandelwal, and there is no basis to interfere with the judgment. It is clear that the bottles were purchased on 23 April 2018, and the complaint was filed on 6 August 2018. The water was tested on 8 April 2019 and found unsuitable for human consumption. Despite the instruction to use the product within six months from the date of manufacture, the presence of green algae could not be attributed solely to the passage of time, especially since the bottle was sealed. In view of the aforementioned, we are of the view that Bisleri, as the manufacturer of the water brand, is indeed at fault. The sealed bottle supplied by Bisleri contained contaminated water, which constitutes a deficiency in service on their part," NCDRC says.
 
While dismissing the revision petition, the bench ordered Bisleri to pay Rs25,000 as compensation to Mr Khandelwal for deficiency in service. 
 
(Revision Petition No744 of 2021 Date: 30 April 2024)
 
Comments
shivanarengoswami
2 months ago
#Bisleri Water Unsafe for Drinking ?????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??? ! https://youtu.be/TLe7vSHdixw
ravinpranaa
2 months ago
Bisleri should have taken the consumer 's word as the voice of the market and replaced the defective bottle. It should thoroughly checke the water and the bottles before filling in with water, during the filling in and at sealing stage as well as during the storage at user places. That's how a company ought to grow its reputation and consumer confidence in its quality instead of fighting the consumer. It is unfortunate that many Indian companies are more interested in profit than develop a passion for excellence about their products and taking the consumer seriously.
shivanarengoswami
Replied to ravinpranaa comment 2 months ago
#Bisleri Water Unsafe for Drinking ?????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??? ! https://youtu.be/TLe7vSHdixw
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