After raid, Dabur Nepal dragged to court

December 27th, 2010 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Dec 27 (IANS) Misfortunes contained to rain down on Indian multinational Dabur India’s independent group company in Nepal, with a public interest litigation dragging it to Supreme Court Monday, just a week after its godown was raided by state vigilance bodies.Supreme Court judge Bharat Upreti was Monday scheduled to hear a petition asking for Dabur Nepal’s manufacturing licence to be cancelled for allegedly producing substandard goods.

The petition was filed Sunday by Bhushan Giri, a resident of Birgunj in southern Nepal, where Nepal’s vigilance officials last Monday raided the godown of Dabur Nepal and found 74,000 cartons of its Real brand of fruit juice carrying post-dated manufacturing labels.

The cartons, worth nearly NRS 80 million, have been sealed by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), which started an investigation accompanied by the Department of Revenue Investigation.

Giri’s writ says the prime minister, commerce minister, industries and supplies minister and CIAA should have responded promptly to the raid following the revelation that there were 74,000 cartons carrying a January 2011 manufacturing date and should have cancelled Dabur Nepal’s licence.

Giri’s petition also mentions reported cases of people falling ill after drinking Real fruit juices.

Last week, police said they were investigating an incident in Banepa, 26 km east of Kathmandu, in which five women reportedly fell ill after drinking Real juice.

Though doctors at the local Scheer Memorial Hospital, where four members of a family and their guest were admitted for treatment for complaining of dizziness, said there was no sign of food poisoning, Dabur Nepal continues to be under a cloud in the country.

The misfortunes started about four months ago when the Real brand faced a sustained campaign by a section of the media, which said cartons had been found to contain insects and other inedible matter.

Dabur Nepal has rejected the reports, saying it was cleared by the food quality control division. Suspicions were also voiced that the campaign was by a section of disgruntled media organisations which had been refused advertisements by Dabur Nepal.

However, the apex court may not be able to start hearing the petition against Dabur Nepal Monday due to time constraints, Supreme Court case official Shrikant Poudel told IANS.

“The case is 10th on the list today and is unlikely to be heard,” Poudel said. “Most likely, a new date will be fixed for the hearing.”

Dabur Nepal, one of the biggest exporting companies in Nepal and among the highest tax payers, has also fallen foul of the opposition Maoist party, whose women’s organisation has been consistently opposing the annual beauty pageant sponsored by Dabur Nepal while allowing other lesser contests to be held without hindrance.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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