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Make no mistake

In its eagerness to be seen to protect consumer rights, the court seems to have ludicrously pinned the failure of law-enforcing authorities on to the soft drinks major. This isn?t the way to fight this fake cola war.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2006 21:41 IST

As everyone who took pains to read the banners during the consumer awareness week in mid-March would know that buyers have the right to sue companies -- and, happily, claim compensation -- if they feel they’ve been ripped off, or been harmed. But thank a consumer disputes redressal forum in Delhi for telling us that we can now perhaps also sue these registered companies -- and, happily, claim compensation -- for what could be spurious goods sold in the market under their brand.

In this case, the consumer court has criticised a soft drink MNC for failing in its “bounden duty” by not taking action against those passing off spurious soft drinks with its brand name, while at the same time slapping a Rs 1 lakh fine on it for the discovery of two contaminated bottles, one of them with a condom.

The temptation to not point out the absurdity of this argument is huge -- imagine the riches awaiting consumers in a country swarming with pirated goods, from books, DVDs, clothes and watches to even matchboxes, and crates of empty cola bottles to fill. It would be much like blaming American writer Megan McCafferty for not noticing that Kaavya Viswanathan had plagiarised from her books. Or taking JK Rowling to court for having been sold a pirated version of Harry Potter.

In its eagerness to be seen to protect consumer rights, the court seems to have ludicrously pinned the failure of law-enforcing authorities on to the soft drinks major. The consumer remains king, but surely this isn’t the way to fight this fake cola war.