In court

Published: Tuesday 31 May 2005

-- Notice to Coke: The Supreme Court (SC), on May 6, 2005, issued a notice to multinational soft drinks company Coca-Cola on a plea of Kerala's Perumatty grama panchayat, which sought an order to stop Coca-Cola from drawing 0.5 million litres of groundwater daily for its Plachimada bottling unit. The permission to draw the groundwater was recently granted by Kerala High Court (HC) (see Down To Earth , 'Coke High', May 15, 2005). SC also issued a notice to Kerala government, which had, before HC's intervention, stayed the panchayat's decision to not renew the company's licence.

The panchayat claims it has a right to refuse withdrawal of such large quantities of water in view of the agricultural and domestic water needs of the area's residents.

Bad treatment: The Supreme Court, on April 15, 2005, issued notices to the Union government and the Central Pollution Control Board over the treatment of bio-medical waste in the country. The move came in response to a petition filed by Delhi-based non-governmental organisation Common Cause, which pointed at flaws in the present system of disposal of such waste through incineration. Harmful emissions are produced in the process. The petition points out that many countries are shifting to safe methods of treating bio-medical waste, using chemicals like caustic soda and lime to convert it to manure.

Yes to "designer babies": Britain's House of Lords, its highest court, ruled on April 28, 2005 that creating babies with a specific genetic make up to help treat their sick siblings should be allowed. The decision rejects an appeal against a 2003 ruling that permitted parents to do so. The present case pertains to six-year-old Zain Hashmi, suffering a fatal blood disorder. Supporters of the decision say the technique saves lives. But others like British pro-life charity LIFE say it is unethical as it amounts to creating a human being to provide 'spare parts' for another.

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