Supreme Court of India
Civil Appeal No. 5759 of 2009
SGS India Ltd vs. Dolphin International Ltd
Facts of the Case:-
The appellant herein is a testing, inspection and certification company that tests the quality and quantity of several products. So the defendant herein, who is a dealer of groundnuts, engaged the appellant for providing services for inspection of groundnuts for the purpose of exporting them to Greece and the Netherlands.
The appellant carried out the inspection and analysis of the peanuts and issued the certificate of quantity, quality, weight and packing certificates. But after the containers reached their respective destination, it was reported that they have grown in size and also there was the development of Aflatoxin in them.
The matter went to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, where the commission directed the appellant to pay a sum of Rs. 65, 74,000/- with interest @9% p.a. from the date of filing of complaint till realization. The appellant was also directed to pay Rs.25, 000/- as the cost to the complainant.
The appellant then approached the Supreme Court. The learned counsel for the appellant argued that there was no responsibility or assurance of the appellant beyond the borders of India. He stated that the appellant was assigned the duty of checking the quality, quantity, weight and packaging of the consignment, and the appellant did perform his duty and also issued the certificate. He also stated that it was clearly mentioned in the certificates issued by the appellant that no responsibility will be accepted after the packaging and the transport of goods. He also stated that the appellant made sure during the inspection that everything was in an ideal condition, and then only he issued the certificates.
The learned counsel appearing for the complainant stated that the appellant was liable to ensure not only quality but also the stuffing and packaging of the containers. He also stated that the appellant performed the High-Quality test to test the goods, for which he was paid even more, and that the certificate issued by the appellant showed that Aflatoxin content was less than 4 PPB but on the arrival of the goods at the destination it was beyond 4 micrograms/Kg i.e. PPB. The complainant alleged that the appellant had held, deliberately withheld the original report and issued the fake or tampered reports.
The Supreme Court after hearing both the parties found that the Order of the Commission was not sustainable and it proceeded on the wrong understandings of the law and facts.
The Court also held that the onus of proof of deficiency in service is on the complainant in the complaints under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. It is the complainant who had approached the Commission, therefore, without any proof of deficiency, the opposing party cannot be held responsible for deficiency in service. It is the complainant who had approached the Commission, therefore, without any proof of deficiency, the opposing party cannot be held responsible for deficiency in service.
The Court also held that the appellant performed what he was demanded to do properly, and after that he cannot be held liable for anything. And, therefore in the absence of any proof of negligence on the part of the appellant at the time of loading of the consignment, the appellant cannot be held responsible.
The Supreme Court thus set aside the order passed by the Commission and dismissed the complaint and allowed the appeal of the appellant.