In contempt

Cola companies reprimanded

Published: Tuesday 31 January 2006

In response to a contempt of court petition, the Rajasthan High Court on January 5, 2006, directed soft drink companies Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to implement its earlier order regarding labels on soft drink bottles mentioning the pesticide residues present. The bench comprising justices Gyansudha Mishra and Jitendra Ray Goyal directed the soft drinks companies to implement the earlier court order within two weeks failing which a Supreme Court) stay order would be imposed. Swati Bhati, an advocate, filed the petition.

On October 8, 2004, the HC had passed its landmark judgement ordering the soft drink companies to specify the ingredients of their products, including pesticides, on their labels. This ruling was in response to a March 2003 public interest petition filed by Bhati. In December 2004, the companies had approached the Supreme Court, which refused to entertain their plea and sent them back to the high court. In June 2005, it issued further directions regarding the exact nature of disclosure required on labels. But the soft drinks companies had again approached the apex court where the case is currently pending.

Exasperated by the companies' delay in implementing the original order, Bhati had filed a contempt of court petition in the high court. The next date for hearing has been set for January 19. Meanwhile, the Perumatty panchayat has issued a fresh licence to Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverage Private Limited's bottling unit at Plachimada for three months, imposing 17 conditions.

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