NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has refused to set aside the conviction of a man for manufacturing and selling spurious soft drinks using brand names like Pepsi and Limca in 2001.
District and Sessions Judge Asha Menon, however, modified the one-year jail term awarded to the man by a magisterial court and modified it to 14 days, the period he had spent behind bars since the onset of a trial in 2001.
The order came on the appeal filed by convict Sant Ram against the conviction and sentence order of a metropolitan magistrate given on November 19, 2015, holding him guilty of applying false trademarks under the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act.
"The analysis of the evidence by the trial court is well reasoned and calls for no interference by this court.
"By selling spurious liquid as if they were manufactured by Pepsi, Limca and Campa, thus holding out to the public that the material in the bottles were qualitatively that of the company's whose bottles were being used, the accused committed the offence punishable under the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act," the district and sessions judge said.
However, while modifying his jail term, the court weighed the aggravating and mitigating factors.
On the one hand it considered a report of the probation officer which said he was remorseful of his act and that he needed to be with his daughter, who was in class 12 and at a crucial age.
On the other hand, the court observed that spurious materials were manufactured for consumption by innocent people which in itself was a serious matter.
"Balancing the aggravating and extenuating circumstances, this court is of the view that in the present case a term in jail other than what has been undergone need not be imposed," the court said.
According to the prosecution, Pearl Drinks Ltd, a franchisee of the PepsiCo India for manufacturing and distribution of all beverage brands of the PepsiCo, had received an information that spurious soft drinks were being manufactured at Mandi, Mehrauli here, and a complaint to the deputy commissioner of police (South) was made in this regard.
Pursuant to this complaint, on the intervening night of April 30, 2001, and May 5, 2001, a police team, along with an officer of the Pearl Drinks Ltd and other employees of the company, conducted a raid and found Sant Ram engaged in manufacturing of spurious soft drinks.
During the raid, spurious drinks filled with six bottles of Pepsi, four bottles of Limca, 16 bottles of Campa and 64 crates of bottles of different drinks were seized besides bottle crowns and other material.
In his appeal against the conviction and sentence order, Sant Ram had claimed that he was innocent and there was no independent witness in the matter when the bottles were seized.