No relief for Nestle, High Court refuses to stay ban on Maggi
Hearing a plea of the Indian arm of the Swiss multinational, Justices VM Kanade and B P Colabawala were of the view that due to the <g data-gr-id="59">impunged</g> orders, Maggi products had already been withdrawn from the shops and hence there was no need to grant a stay on the ban.
The company had moved the High Court challenging the ban imposed by a June 5 order by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banning nine variants of the popular instant snack.
It had also questioned a similar order by the Maharashtra Government prohibiting the sale of the same products on the ground they were unsafe and harmful to the health of people.
The bench said the authorities were entitled to prosecute the company in case of procedural lapses and if they were not satisfied with the reply of Nestle to the food authorities.
However, in case if Nestle was to be prosecuted, the Judges asked the authorities to give 72 hours notice to the company which had filed an appeal against the impugned orders.
The bench also directed FSSAI and Commissioner of Food Safety, Government of Maharashtra, to file their affidavits in reply to the company's appeal within two weeks justifying the reasons on the basis of which the ban had been imposed.
The matter has been posted for hearing on June 30.
Nestle has sought quashing of the June 5 order of Delhi-based Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and its Chief Executive Officer asking the company to withdraw and recall all its nine variants of Maggi from the market as they were unsafe and harmful for human consumption.
The impugned orders also asked the company to stop production, processing, import, distribution and sale of their products with immediate effect, said Nestle.
Nestle also sought setting aside the order of Maharashtra Commissioner of Food Safety, banning the production and sale of 'Maggi' products in the State. The company said the impugned orders do not comply with the mandatory provisions of section 34 of Food Safety and Standards Authority Act which deals with Emergency prohibition notices and orders. It said the orders were passed without any authority and without following due process of law.
The company also said the orders were illegal, arbitrary and violative of the principles of Natural Justice as well as the Constitution of India.
Nestle argued that the application of standards or tolerance limit by the authorities in the tests conducted by them for the presence of lead in its products was “incorrect and against the law.”
The finding of impugned orders that the cake and tastemaker should be tested separately are “erroneous and liable to be set aside,” it said. The company also denied misbranding or violation of packaging and labelling regulations as alleged by the impugned orders.
The directions in impugned orders to withdraw and recall its product “Maggi Masala Oats” was arbitrary and devoid of merits. Nestle denied that its products posed a health risk as alleged by the impugned orders. The company denied allegations of food authorities in India of the presence of lead in excess of permissible levels of 2.5 parts per million (ppm) and refuted charges that the information given on labels and package of its products were “misleading”.
Nestle further said that the allegation of lead presence in its products was “non-specific and vague” as it did not say how the product was misbranded.