Adulteration case against Pepsi set aside

Gandhinagar, Oct 25 (Calcutta Tube) Granting relief to Pepsico India Holding Limited, the Gujarat High Court has quashed a criminal case in which it was alleged that the company provided a soft drink bottle containing insects.

In a judgment made available Monday, Justice Akil Kureshi set aside a case against Pepsico which was pending before a lower court in Jamnagar. The case was filed over a decade ago by a man who detected insects in a soft drink bottle.

‘It is clear that except the statement of the complainant there is no other evidence to support the case of the complainant. His request for sending the sample for public analyst report under the PFA Act came to be dismissed,’ the court said.

‘Nearly 13 years after the alleged incident, there is no material likely to be available to bring home the charges and, therefore, continuation of criminal proceedings against the petitioners would amount to abuse of process of law,’ the court said.

The company and others were charged with providing an adulterated soft drink intended for sale. They were charged under penal provisions related to adulteration and the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act.

According to the case details, Kishor Khattar purchased a 300 ml bottle of ‘Mirinda’ cold drink from Jamnagar’s Tanna Food Agency in August 1997.

It was alleged that the bottle contained ants, insects and also other dust particles and the drink was not fit for consumption.

The complainant issued notices to the company Sep 10, 1997. He later filed a criminal complaint alleging adulteration.

A magistrate in Jamnagar, after initial reluctance, recorded the statement of the complainant on oath and by an order dated May 15, 2002 initiated the case process.

Pepsico and others sought quashing of the case against them on two grounds.

First, it was not possible to establish an offence of adulteration in the absence of any report of a public analyst under the PFA Act. Second, neither a certificate was obtained from the director of a central food laboratory nor was any part of the sample of food taken for analysis.

The court, however, accepted the petitioners’ submission that there was absolutely no evidence with which the charge could be proved.

The court allowed the appeal and quashed and set aside the case pending before Pepsico and others.

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