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Andhra HC rejects plea to ban colas

Rejecting the plea, Andhra HC pulled up the petitioner saying he had nothing except press reports to back claims that colas were toxic.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2003 18:02 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

The Andhra Pradesh High Court has rejected a petition seeking a ban on Pepsi and Coca-Cola and pulled up the petitioner, saying he had nothing except press reports to back his claims that their beverages contain toxic substances.

The public interest petition was filed in the Andhra Pradesh HC after the environmental group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released a report saying beverages of the American soft drink firms contained high levels of pesticide residues.

The court on Friday dismissed the petition by Komireddy Krishna Vijay Azad, secretary of the Indian Young Lawyers Forum, with the observation that the case was filed to gain publicity and asked Azad to pay Rs 10,000 as costs.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Devinder Gupta and Justice CV Ramulu also expressed its displeasure over the language used in the petition and the publicity given to it before it was filed.

The judges asked Azad if he had evidence to prove his claim that the soft drinks were contaminated. They wondered how he could justify his stand on the basis of newspaper reports.

Azad had said that Coke and Pepsi were endangering the lives of people. He had cited some press clippings and news from Internet editions of English dailies in support of the charge that the soft drinks contained residues of pesticides.

He even accused Members of Parliament of being selfish because the sale of the beverages was banned in Parliament premises after the report was released.

"The politicians and MPs are selfish and concerned only about their health as they quickly reacted and prohibited soft drinks in Parliament," he said.

The petition was dismissed at the admission stage itself.

Coca-Cola India welcomed the dismissal of the petition, saying: "It vindicated our position and should reassure consumers that our products are safe."

Meanwhile, dozens of lawyers in Metropolitan Criminal Courts here staged a protest demanding a ban on the sale of soft drinks. The Bar Association members emptied bottles of Pepsi, Coke and other soft drinks to emphasise their point.

The Andhra Pradesh government has already announced that that it will test the samples of soft drinks for the presence of pesticide residues.

Health Minister Kodela Sivaprasada Rao said samples of major brands were being sent to the Institute of Preventive Medicine. Rao, who held a meeting with officials of the Food Adulteration Department after the CSE findings were made public, said stringent action would be taken if the samples were found positive.

First Published: Aug 09, 2003 11:06 IST