CHENNAI: The TN State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed Asia Tea Company in Periamedu to pay a compensation of `25 lakh and to cease from manufacturing and selling adulterated tea to consumers.
Holding that the company has adopted unfair trade practice, the Commission led by its president Justice R Regupathy and judicial member J Jayaram gave the direction while allowing two complaints, one from the Commissioner of Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department and the other from the Consumer Association of India, by R Desikan, on Wednesday.
The Commission directed the company to discontinue the unfair trade practice under Section 14 (1) (f), not to offer the hazardous goods for sale under Section 14 (1) (g), to withdraw the hazardous goods from being offered for sale under Section 14 (1) (h) and to cease manufacture of hazardous goods and desist from offering services which are hazardous in nature under Section 14 (1) (ha) of the Consumer Protection Act.
The amount of `25 lakh must be credited to the TN State Consumer Welfare Fund account within two months, the Commission added. On consideration of the entire evidence, the Commission said it was clearly established by the complainants that the company has been selling adulterated tea to the customers. It has itself made statements before the Commissioner of Civil Supplies admitting the allegations, which are well established by records and exhibits, the judges added.
Rejecting the contention that tea is not a food or foodstuff as laid down by the Supreme Court in a case reported in 2004, the judges noted that the cases on hand are filed under the Consumer Protection Act and so they are concerned only with the goods and products involved. Therefore, the question whether or not tea is foodstuff, does not arise.
As regards the contention that the lab tests, as contemplated under Section 13 (1) (c) of the Act have not been followed in this case and it vitiated the proceedings, the judges said proper tests had been carried out and the analysis reports of Chennai Corporation and the one from the King Institute, commentary of WHO/PAO - expert consultation on diet, nutrition and prevention of chronic diseases, have been filed.