FSSAI plea against Mumbai HC order on Maggi, next hearing on January 13
Hearing an appeal by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) against the August 13 order by Mumbai High Court with respect to the ban on Maggi noodles, a product of Nestle India, the Supreme Court has allowed the petition and posted the hearing for January 13, 2016, for arguments on whether a stay can be granted on the High Court judgment.
Interestingly, according to sources, FSSAI counsel in SC had submitted that there was no ban imposed on Maggi. Instead, a showcause notice was issued to the company, seeking an explanation about the test reports claiming excess lead levels in its products. The company was also asked about the claims on its label that said ‘no added MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)’ while test report findings proved products contained MSG.
Sources further stated that it was submitted to the apex court that the High Court erred in coming to the conclusion that the showcause notice was a ban order. Further, seeking a stay on the High Court judgment that formed basis for Maggi’s return, FSSAI stated that harm may be caused to consumers of the products, which will have an adverse effect on human health and life in the country.
The division bench thereafter directed Nestle and the Maharashtra government to respond by January 13.
The FSSAI, represented by attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi, explained that FSSAI had only asked the company to stop further manufacture, production, import distribution and sale of its noodle variants in public interest during the period of consideration of the notice. This, it contended, would hardly have the effect of a ban order, especially when Nestle had already issued a press release declaring that it was recalling its products under the scanner for excessive lead content.
And, thereafter, Nestle destroyed 25,000 tonne of Maggi products.
The FSSAI argued that the company, instead of replying to the showcause notice, moved the Bombay HC.
Sources say that the counsels for FSSAI told SC that Bombay High Court interpreted the notice issued by FSSAI as ban order and asked the company itself to provide the fresh samples for testing instead of asking a neutral authority to do so.
Meanwhile, post-Mumbai High Court order Maggi has started its manufacturing and the brand is now being sold in retail markets.