Supreme Court Issues Notice to Coca-Cola on Village Council Appeal
Indo-Asian News Service
August 12, 2005

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to Coca Cola on a petition seeking to stay a Kerala High Court order directing a panchayat to issue licence for drawing water to a plant of the soft drink major within a week.

The High Court by its June 1 order had also held that if the formal licence was not issued by the Perumatty Panchayat within one week, then it would be deemed that the licence in favour of the company had been renewed for five years.

But a bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice BN Srikrishna of the Supreme Court after hearing the senior counsel for the panchayat, Rajeev Dhavan, also ordered a notice to the Kerala government and the cola company on an interim application seeking a stay of the impugned judgments April 7 and June 1.

The bench directed that the special leave petition be tagged with an earlier petition filed by the panchayat challenging the April 7 order of the High Court, which had allowed the cola company's Plachimada bottling unit to draw 500,000 litres of groundwater per day pending issuance of license by the panchayat.

In its petition, the panchayat submitted that the cola company did not comply with various orders of the High Court and did not produce along with statutory application the various licences and clearances to be obtained from different governmental bodies. Since the application itself was defective, the panchayat rejected the request for renewal.

It said that it had a right to refuse drawing of large quantities of ground water by Coca-Cola, keeping in view the interests of agriculture and domestic consumers.

Further, the interim report submitted by the investigating team indicated that there was excessive extraction of groundwater, which had adversely affected the availability of drinking water and water for agricultural purposes. The panchayat sought quashing of the two High Court judgements and an interim stay of their operation.

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