SC directs judicial commission to inspect bottled water companies

Updated November 20, 2018

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The court today directed a judicial commission to inspect companies that sell bottled water locally. ─ File photo
The court today directed a judicial commission to inspect companies that sell bottled water locally. ─ File photo

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ordered the closure of Naubahar Bottling Company while hearing a suo motu case at the Lahore registry against companies that sell bottled water.

A report on the quality of bottled water submitted in court yesterday said that each company uses 90 million litres of water a day.

There is no certified method to assess the quality of water, it said, adding that only Qarshi has a certified laboratory.

The report ─ which found that groundwater contains fluoride and arsenic ─ also highlighted that none of the other companies are aware of what is in the water that they extract from the ground.

Along with ordering the closure of the largest manufacturer and distributor of Pepsi Cola, the two-member bench of the SC headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar today directed a judicial commission to inspect companies that sell bottled water locally, and directed all such companies, including Nestle, to rectify their errors within 10 days.

CJP Nisar asked why cases hadn't been registered against companies selling poor quality water.

The Punjab Food Authority (PFA) Director General said that notices had been sent but the administration refused to receive it.

The auditor general's report found that the cost of a 1.5 litre water bottle, including packaging, comes to Rs8.79.

The court said it is focusing on reducing the price of water. "This is a matter of the lives of citizens. The court will have a strict investigation conducted. Water companies are lying and earning crores," Justice Nisar said.

He added: "Unless a 'big man' is reprimanded, he will not do the right thing."

The top judge also asked why Nestle had not retained the quality of its bottled water in Pakistan.

"We will not let Pakistan be treated like a third world country and we will not let discrimination take place," CJP Nisar asserted.

After the SC on Monday summoned the owners of 11 bottled water companies, Naubahar owner Adnan Khan also appeared in court today.

But the SC expressed its displeasure with Khan for being rude to the Punjab Food Authority Director General.

The CJP commented that Khan may be his father's eldest son at home, but he was not accorded this status in court. After Khan asked the court for forgiveness, his arrest was halted.

While hearing the case, the court also directed an inspection of Shezan International Limited today.

The court appreciated Qarshi for selling quality water.

"Gourmet's water is also very good. Companies selling clean water are praise worthy," CJP Nisar remarked.

The hearing of the case was postponed till December 3.