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More testing times for Nestle

Tomojit Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on August 17, 2015

Top consumer court admits Centre’s petition

The worst is not over for Nestle India and its popular noodle brand Maggi, with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) issuing a notice to the company on the ₹640-crore class action suit filed by the Centre for unfair trade practices.

An NCDRC Bench headed by Justice VK Jain on Monday admitted the Centre’s plea that accused the company of misbranding and misleading advertisements. It also permitted testing of samples of all Maggi instant noodle variants in appropriate laboratories.

“This is a game-changer since the Bombay High Court allowed Nestle to test the product. The NCDRC Bench admitted our plea invoking Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, whereby we can submit samples to it and ask for them to be tested,” a senior government official told  BusinessLine.

Section 13 pertains to the procedure on admission of a complaint with sub-section C allowing for samples of goods to be obtained from the complainant (in this case the Department of Consumer Affairs) and sealed and then tested at an appropriate laboratory.  

“Four samples were produced at the hearing to indicate their availability in the market. We made it clear that we wanted them tested,” said the official. The Department will now lift from marketplaces across the country at least 10 samples of all nine Maggi variants, which were manufactured before the recall order on June 5. “We will pick up samples from stock still lying with distributors and submit it to the NCDRC which will get them tested. The application will be filed a little before September 30, the date of the hearing. We reserve our right to claim higher damages if the results turn out to be positive,” the official added.

On August 11, the Centre had filed the petition alleging unfair trade practices in the marketing of Maggi noodles by selling  “defective and hazardous products”.  As regards making Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) a respondent in the petition filed by the Ministry at the NCDRC, the official said, “As of now we are not doing it.”

The decision to exclude FSSAI, a statutory body under the Health Ministry, was taken at a meeting between the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) and officials from the Consumer Affairs Department on Saturday. It was felt that at the moment the government should concentrate on the issue of unfair trade practice.

Published on August 17, 2015
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