Soft drink giant Pepsi has been ordered to pay over Rs 1 lakh (Rs 100,000) compensation by a Delhi consumer court 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 soft drinks 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) comprising president K K Chopra and members R K Prabhakar and Neeru Mittal said.
Terming the case as 'rare' with a serious bearing on the public health, the court directed PepsiCo India Holdings Ltd to pay Rs 1 lakh towards the Consumer Legal Aid Fund and Rs 20,000 as damages to the complainant.
Complainant Sudesh Sharma, a resident of Ujhani village, had purchased two bottles of Pepsi from a retail shop near Kashmere Gate in the Capital in year 2003.
He started suffering from severe dyspepsia and headache, followed by insomnia, after drinking from one of the bottles. His condition worsened over a period of time and he had to seek medical treatment.
Meanwhile, Sharma, on inspecting the bottle from which he had drunk, found dirt and other contaminants inside it.
Even worse, Sharma was shocked to find a condom inside the other Pepsi bottle, which was still sealed.
Staunchly denying any negligence on its part, Pepsi maintained in court that the bottles may have contained spurious products illegally marketed under its brand name.
To this, the court held that the soft drink 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 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.