Hindustan Unilever dangles Rs 1 cr PURE IT carrot before viewers, HC dismisses plea against probe

The Bombay High Court has dismissed a petition filed by FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever against a magistrate's direction to the police to conduct an inquiry into the veracity of an advertisement of its water purifier `PURE IT'.

HC dismissed as "premature" the petition filed by Vikram Surendran, General Manager (Water) of HUL. Justice K U Chandiwal held a mere police inquiry would not cause harassment or humiliation to the petitioner or other employees of the company.

The advertisement had claimed PURE IT kills one crore viruses from one litre of water. It further said if anybody could prove that there was a better product which could remove one crore viruses from a litre of water, then he/she will get Rs 1 crore from HUL.

Dr Arvind Shenoy, an analytical chemist, filed a complaint against Surendran and the company for "cheating", charging the advertisement was deceptive and Surendran and others knew that PURE IT does match upto the claims made.

On October 31, 2011, magistrate's court asked police to carry out an inquiry, which Surendran challenged.

However, Justice Chandiwal said in his recent order that the magistrate had not passed any ruling on "truthfulness of the complaint" as he had only sought a police report.

At the same time, the HC noted that the matter pertained to an advertisement, "for which on June 2, 2011, National Institute of Virology had asked Hindustan Unilever to refrain from twisting and misrepresenting the facts and warned that failure to take immediate corrective measures may force them to take legal action against the Company".

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