Consumer Forum Fines Britannia ₹60,000 for Underweight Biscuit Packets

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Thrissur, Kerala, has fined Britannia Industries and a bakery ₹60,000 for selling biscuit packets that weighed significantly less than the stated weight. The commission’s decision came after a complaint from a consumer named George Thattil, who found that the biscuit packets he purchased were 52 grams lighter than the claimed 300 grams.

George had bought two packets of “Britannia Nutri Choice Thin Arrow Root Biscuits” from Chukkiri Royal Bakery, each costing ₹40. The packaging claimed each packet weighed 300 grams, but George found that one packet weighed 268 grams and the other 248 grams. Suspecting foul play, George reported the issue to the Assistant Controller with the Flying Squad of Legal Metrology in Thrissur. Upon verification, the authorities confirmed that the packets were indeed underweight.

George then filed a complaint with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, seeking compensation for the financial, physical, and mental distress he experienced due to the misleading packaging. He also requested an order to prevent such deceptive practices by manufacturers and sellers in the future.

The commission, consisting of President C.T. Sabu and members Sreeja S. and Ram Mohan R., noted that both Britannia and the bakery failed to respond to the notices sent to them. Consequently, the commission proceeded with the case ex-parte, meaning without the defendants’ participation. The commission found that both parties had engaged in unfair trade practices by selling underweight biscuit packets, which violated the Consumer Protection Act and Section 30 of the Legal Metrology Act 2009.

The commission emphasized that selling products with misleading weights not only cheats consumers financially but also violates their right to be free from exploitation and deception. The deceptive actions of the manufacturer and the seller were deemed serious enough to warrant strict penalties.

As a result, the commission ordered Britannia and the bakery to pay ₹50,000 in compensation to George for the distress and losses he suffered. Additionally, they were ordered to pay ₹10,000 to cover his litigation costs. The commission also directed the Controller of Legal Metrology in Kerala to conduct a state-wide investigation to ensure that all packaged commodities comply with net quantity regulations.

This ruling underscores the importance of manufacturers and sellers adhering to accurate labeling and packaging standards. Misleading consumers with incorrect weights or measures is a serious violation of consumer rights and can lead to significant penalties. The case also highlights the role of legal metrology authorities in verifying and enforcing compliance with these standards to protect consumer interests.

Advocate A.D. Benny represented George in this case, ensuring that his grievances were heard and addressed by the commission. The decision serves as a reminder to consumers to remain vigilant and report any discrepancies they encounter in product packaging to the relevant authorities. It also serves as a warning to businesses about the consequences of engaging in unfair trade practices.