HC rejects AB InBev's request to suspend the ban

New Delhi: Delhi's high court on Tuesday rejected a request for Anheuser-Busch to maintain a three-year sales ban imposed by the authorities of the city of New Delhi, which represents another setback for the world's largest brewer in one of the country's key markets.

Prohibited Authorities AB InBev in July for selling his beer in the New Delhi market for allegations of local state tax evasion. The company has denied the accusations.

The state's special tax commissioner, who is already hearing an appeal against the ban order, rejected a request from the company to delay the implementation of the ban, Reuters reported last month.

AB InBev 's plea against the city government was heard at the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, where Justice Navin Chawla declined to give any immediate relief and said the appeals process before the state authorities must first be completed. Why have two parallel proceedings, said Chawla.

The banning order of the Delhi city government followed a three-year investigation that found the brewer SABMiller -acquired by AB InBev in 2016 for 100 billion - used duplicate barcodes on its beer bottles supplied to city retailers that year, allowing it to pay lower levies.

AB InBev, which counts popular beer brands such as Budweiser, Hoegaarden and Stella Artois in its portfolio, said on Tuesday it was contesting the allegations which were dated back to 2016, before its takeover of SABMiller.

We understand that appropriate special tax payments were made. We are committed to operating with integrity and high ethical standards, the company said. On Tuesday, the state government lawyer referred to the case as one involving clandestine treatment, arguing that the brewery had not completed its appeal procedures with the state, which will be heard on September 9.

AB InBev 's counsel Rajiv Nayar, however, argued for immediate relief, saying the brewer was suffering due to the ban as it could not apply for state licenses for the next year. Though Justice Chawla did not agree to give any relief for now, he said he viewed the case as one in which the city government acted beyond its authority in banning AB InBev. He will next hear the case on Sept 16. AB InBev is the second biggest player in India's $ 7 billion beer market, accounting for a 17.5% market share, according to research firm IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. reuters

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