The odds may have seemed to be heavily in favour of the Future Group in the retail chain major’s battle against customer Anand Unnikrishnan who accused it of selling rotten and contaminated food, but justice seems to have been served, with the Kerala State Consumer Redressal Commission asking not only Future Group but also the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to pay up for putting Unnikrishnan in considerable difficulty.

It took him four years, but the 40-year-old former Senior Manager with an airlines company, who now works as a business skills trainer, thinks the battle was worth the effort.

Unnikrishnan submitted that he was a regular customer at the Future Group’s Food Bazaar at Nucleus Mall, Maradu, but he had been getting pest-ridden cereals and pulses and rotten vegetables. The sub-standard produce resulted in him suffering a bout of Hepatitis-A, which required hospitalization and cost him Rs. 48,300. He said he had been bedridden for 15 days, and required another month of bed rest before he recovered fully. Other members of his family suffered too, with stomach cramps and other ailments.

Unnikrishnan’s complaint against the retail chain was upheld by the Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, but the Group went on appeal. However, the State Commission upheld the lower court’s order, and asked the Future Group to pay Unnikrishnan a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh.

The Commission directed the group to “not sell or offer for sale any sub-standard food or contaminated food articles through their outlet”. It also fined the FSSAI Rs. 5000 for not acting on Unnikrishnan’s complaint, and said his ordeal “would have been averted if the food safety authority [had] faithfully and diligently executed its functions in time”.

To its credit, Future Value Retail Ltd. has sent Unnikrishnan a letter apologizing for his “dissatisfying” shopping experience, and telling him that his comments had been shared with key people in the organization.
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