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‘Why ban Coca Cola, Thums Up?’: SC slaps Rs 5 lakh fine on petitioner

The Supreme Court on Thursday imposed an exemplary cost of Rs 5 lakh on a social worker who filed a plea seeking ban on sale and use of Coca Cola and Thums Up, claiming these soft beverages are hazardous to health.

The court noted that it is unclear why two specific brands were targeted in the petition.

Umedish P. Chavda had moved the top court seeking directions to prohibit the sale and use of Coca Cola, Thums Up beverages and also issuing notification apprising people at large not to drink and use it, as the same is detrimental to the cause of health.

A bench headed by Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi said: “We accordingly dismiss the petition and impose costs quantified at Rs 5,00,000 on the petitioner. The costs imposed shall be deposited in the Registry within one month and shall be disbursed to the Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association. In default of compliance, the Registry shall place an Office Report for directions.”

The top court observed that the affidavit in support of the petition states that the contents of the petition are true to the knowledge and belief of the petitioner and the petition has been filed without the petitioner having any technical knowledge on the subject.

“The source of his assertions has not been substantiated. No justification or explanation is forthcoming during the submissions of S.P. Singh, senior counsel (for the petitioner) on why two specific brands, in particular, are chosen to be the target of the proceedings. The petition has been filed for extraneous reasons. The invocation of the jurisdiction under Article 32 is an abuse of the process,” said the bench.

After hearing the petitioner’s counsel’s argument on the matter, the top court said: “We have come to the conclusion that invocation of the jurisdiction under Article 32 is not a bona fide recourse to the jurisdiction in public interest litigation. Consequently, besides dismissing the petition, an order directing the imposition of exemplary costs is necessary.”

The petitioner has moved the top court seeking directions to the Centre to submit a complete analytical report and scientific approval by scientists in providing license of sale and use of liquid items like Coca Cola, and Thums Up.

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