Rooh Afza: Why Delhi HC Is Banning Pakistan-Produced Drink
Rooh Afza, which literally translates to refresher of the soul, is a sherbet concentrate that was created in the early years of the 20th century in pre-partition India.
The sale of Pakistan-made Rooh Afza has been banned in India after its owner Hamdard National Foundation approached the Delhi High Court and filed a suit. The owner alleged that the products of a Pakistani counterpart were being sold on e-commerce website, Amazon.
In the suit, Hamdard National Foundation and Hamdard Laboratories India said that Pakistani company Golden Leaf was selling the drink under the 'Rooh Afza' mark on Amazon India.
Rooh Afza, which literally translates to refresher of the soul, is a sherbet concentrate, known for its refreshing properties, and is popular in India during the hot summer months. The invention of the drink dates back to the early years of 20th century in pre-partition India.
Here is all you need to know about a cooling drink that has been one of the heated issues between India and Pakistan:
Why did Delhi HC ban sale of Pakistan-made Rooh Afza?
Earlier in September, the Delhi court had asked Amazon to remove the listing of the Pakistan-made drink under "Rooh Afza" from its website in India. The website was given 48 hours tie to furnish the details of the seller to Hamdard, which alleged that the Pakistan counterpart of the product did not comply with "LMA and FSSAI regulations" in India.
"No address, email address or telephone number of the manufacturer is available at the label of the product," Hamdard alleged adding that it was not clear as to how the product was being imported from Pakistan when clearly the plaintiffs have "statutory rights in the marks in India."
The court observed that the consumer has no way of knowing if the ordered product is from India or Pakistan till they receive it since all the products with nae Rooh Afza are listed under the Hamdard Store page on the Amazon India website.
"This can have an adverse impact on the consumers, in as much as the details of the sellers are not known. Since www.amazon.in claims to be an intermediary it has an obligation to disclose names of sellers, their contact details etc., on the product listings," the court observed.
What has Pakistan said?
Amid the ban on the sale of Pakistan-made Rooh Afza in India, Hamdard's Pakistan unit has distanced itself from the controversy saying that it was "marketed by individuals in Dubai through various e-commerce platforms."
"Hamdard Pakistan has got nothing to do with the ban on Rooh Afza in India as the company does not export its product to that country," Faiz Ullah Jawad, the company's marketing and business development director, was quoted by Arab News on Wednesday. Jawad further said that Hamdard Pakistan was never involved in any business with India.
When and where did Rooh Afza originate?
The origins of Rooh Afza date back to the early years of the 20th century in pre-partition India's Ghaziabad. In 1906, Hakeem Muhammad Kabeeruddin formulated the drink. He, along with Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed, launched the drink from Old Delhi. The drink was created to help the people of Delhi in the hot summer months.
Majeed died at a young age of 34 and was survived by his wife Rabea Begum, and two sons. His wife decided to ake Hadard a trust and her two sons were trustees. the profits were diverted to the public welfare as the country was struggling against the British colonialists.
The British did leave but left behind a trail of bloody partition and the subcontinent was divided into two nations based on communal lines in 1947.
Post partition, Majeed's younger son Hakim Muhammad Said, moved to Karachi and he set up the company's unit on the other side of the border. When Bangladesh was created in 1971, a unit of Hamdard was set up there as well where Rooh Afza started being manufactured.
According to a report in the New York Times, Rooh Afza helps the company in India earn a profit of around $45 million annually.
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