A soft drink company has been fined Rs 1 lakh and directed to pay Rs 50,000 compensation to a doctor who suffered food poisoning and had to be hospitalised after consuming a cola that reportedly contained fungus. The New Delhi District consumer forum has asked Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Ltd to deposit Rs one lakh in the Delhi State consumer commission relief fund as penalty.
The complainant, Raj Mohan Atrey, an East Delhi-based doctor, complained that he started vomiting as soon as he had few sips of Coca Cola that he bought from one Prince Pan Corner in West Jyoti Nagar on April 21 last year. He claimed that he saw fungus floating in the bottle. He was admitted to Maha Laxmi hospital in Shahadra with acute gastroenteritis and food poisoning. He stayed in hospital for six days.
Atrey, whose complaint to the Shahadra police, was not lodged, later filed the case through his lawyer Shashi Shanker and sought Rs 17.5 lakh in compensation.
However, the company said that it cannot be held accountable as the bottle was not sent for chemical testing and that the doctor did not produce any receipt of purchase of the cola. Turning down this plea, forum president KK Chopra said: "There's no need for a chemical test when fungus is visible to naked eye. Further the physical and medical treatment of complainant leaves no doubt that it was a contaminated coca cola bottle. Also how many customers ask for receipts.''
The company further pleaded that spurious bottles are on sale and the company cannot be blamed for fake drinks. The company has a foolproof system of bottling and there's no way any bottle will contain fungus, said the company's representative in the court.
However, the forum president said: "How many times the officers of the company have taken police along for conducting raids so as to check the spurious sale of the coca cola? The inaction on the part of company to unearth the spurious coca cola amounts to permissive sanction.''
Coca Cola spokesperson, meanwhile, said that the company is not aware of any such order. We will take a suitable action on receiving the order.
October 19, 2009
Times Of India