INDIA: Court rules Kerala cola ban illegal

By | 22 September 2006

A court in the communist-ruled Indian state of Kerala has today (22 September) lifted the ban on the sale of Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo drinks.

Last month, Kerala's state government enacted a total ban on Coke and Pepsi products following a report that claimed samples of the drinks contained illegally high levels of pesticides.

However, according to Reuters, Kerala's High Court said that the ban was unconstitutional and that the products were safe to drink.

"The High Court quashes the order of the Kerala government banning Coke and Pepsi production and sale," chief justice V.K. Bali said in a courtroom in the city of Kochi, Reuters said.

The judge said the report, from the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment could not be the basis for the ban.

"The order of Kerala government was based on the CSE report which the High Court does not rely upon," Bali said.

Late last month, India's Health Ministry had attacked the CSE's claims, arguing the body did not provide "conclusive evidence" to back up its allegations.

However, a number of Indian states refused to lift their bans on Coke and Pepsi products. In the aftermath of the report, seven states brought in at least partial bans with Kerala the only state to impose an outright ban.

Since the CSE report was published, Coke and Pepsi have insisted their products were safe to drink. Pepsi embarked on an ad campaign to convince Indian consumers of the safety of its products.

Pepsi even reportedly aired a TV ad featuring the head of its local operations defending its products.

Sectors: Soft drinks, Water

Companies: Coke, Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo

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