High Court Dismisses Coca-Cola Petition, Upholds Village Council Decision
The Hindu
November 17, 2005

Perumatty Panchayat has Complied with Court Directives

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by the Coca-Cola seeking to clarify that the licence for operating its plant at Plachimada was renewed with effect from June 10, 2004, for two years as per the court's earlier directive.

The Bench comprising Justice M. Ramachandran and Justice K.P. Balachandran dismissed the plea. In its petition, the company pointed out that the bench had earlier directed the Perumatty grama panchayat to renew the licence within one week. The court had also ordered that if any formal licence had not been issued by the panchayat within the time limit, it should be deemed that the petitioner possessed such licence as renewed and it would be within their rights to carry on the functioning of the company for a block of two years subject to certain restrictions already laid down by the court.

The panchayat had issued licence only for three months from June 6, 2005. The company said that the orders passed as well as specific directive issued were resented by the panchayat and, therefore, a clarification order was needed to ensure that the company got the benefits available as per the earlier court directive. The company also contended that the licence had not been granted within the prescribed time and, therefore, the panchayat was liable to accept the position that the petitioner had a dejure licence.

Counsel for the panchayat K. Ramkumar contended that the petition was mischievous and not legally sustainable. He contended that there was no deemed licence as claimed by the company. Only if a formal licence was not issued within the time limit of seven days, it could have been possible to contend that the petitioner possessed such a licence as renewed. In fact, the panchayat had complied with the orders of the court and it was the company's duty to collect the licence, he contended.

While observing that the contentions of the panchayat were justified, the court felt that when a licence for three months had been issued, the pancahayat had complied with the directives of the court. The court also found that the panchayat had granted the company the licence for three months.

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