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Pepsi asked to pay over Rs 1 lakh damages for condom in bottle

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 26 (UNI) A city consumer court has ordered softdrink giant Pepsi to pay over Rs one lakh compensation after a man found a condom inside a sealed bottle of the company.

''This case is an eye-opener for others who are engaged in manufacturing softdrinks and are required to maintain the prescribed standards of purity in public interest during the course of their business activities," Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (North) bench comprising president K K Chopra and members R K Prabhakar and Neeru Mittal said on Monday.

Terming the case as ''rare'' with a serious bearing on the public health, the court directed Pepsico India Holdings Ltd to pay Rs one lakh towards the Consumer Legal Aid Fund and Rs 20,000 as damages to the complainant.

Complainant Sudesh Sharma, a resident of Ujhani village here, had purchased two bottles of Pepsi from a retail shop near Kashmere Gate in the Capital in 2003.

He started suffering from severe dyspepsia and headache, followed by insomnia, after consuming the drink from one of the bottles.

His condition worsened over a period of time and he had to seek medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Mr Sharma, on inspecting the bottle from which he had drunk, found dirt and other contaminants inside it.

Even worse, Mr Sharma was shocked to find a condom inside the other Pepsi bottle, which was still sealed.

Denying any negligence on its part, Pepsi maintained in court that the bottles may have contained spurious products illegally marketed under its brand name.

Pepsi said the product did not belong to the company and somebody had sold the bottle with its name.

To this, the court held that the softdrink major had failed in its "bounden duty" towards its customers by not taking any deterrent action against such unscrupulous persons who pass off spurious products as Pepsi's.

Further, the court rejected as a ''lame excuse'' Pepsi's objection that it could not be held liable in the case as it did not have any authorised dealers in the vicinity of Kashmere Gate.

''This is at best only a lame excuse and does not carry any weight as they have got various dealers everywhere despite the fact that the manufacturing process might have taken place at some particular place,'' the court observed.

Dismissing Pepsi's argument that Mr Sharma had not submitted any proof of purchase of the bottles, the court observed that it was not a practice in the open market among shopkeepers to issue receipt or cash memo whenever a person purchased one or two bottles.

The Forum also directed the company to pay Rs 3,000 as litigation costs.

UNI XC NR MA BST2003

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