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Chivas-maker Pernod challenges New Delhi licence rejection in court

"Merely because there may be certain allegations ... cannot be equated with a criminal or be considered as having a criminal background," Pernod Ricard's April 23 filing stated

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Reuters

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Pernod Ricard has asked an Indian court to push New Delhi city authorities to grant it a liquor sale licence, after local officials rejected the French company's request, citing certain investigations, a legal filing shows.

In a 332-page court filing at the Delhi High Court on April 23, seen by Reuters, the maker of Chivas Regal and Absolut Vodka argues Delhi authorities made the decision based on criminal allegations against the company, but disregarded that no wrongdoing had been proved yet.
 
"Merely because there may be certain allegations ... cannot be equated with a criminal or be considered as having a criminal background," Pernod Ricard's April 23 filing stated. "There is no criminal conviction."
 
Pernod's case will be heard on Wednesday.
 
Reuters is first to report details of Pernod's legal challenge, the latest move in a battle the French spirits group has said is causing it "massive losses" as none of its brands have been available in the capital for more than six months.
 
The company and the Delhi city government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
 
India's federal agencies have accused Pernod of illegally making profits by giving false information to Delhi city authorities in 2021, and violating rules by financially supporting retailers in exchange for stocking more of its brands. Pernod has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
 
The Delhi government in its April 13 rejection order of the company's long-pending license request said Pernod and its employees "had active involvement in the said criminal conspiracy".
 
Pernod has operated for more than 20 years across India, where licences to operate are individually granted by states or in this case, the national capital territory, and mostly have to be renewed every year.
 
The company counts India as a key market where it has a 17% share and competes with Diageo. While the market share for New Delhi alone is not available, industry executives say the capital serves as a showcase market for premium brands which makes it critical for any liquor company.
 
(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Arpan Chaturvedi; Editing by Sonali Paul)

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First Published: Apr 26 2023 | 10:44 AM IST

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