The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from Maggi noodles manufacturer Nestle India Ltd. and Maharashtra on a plea filed by food regulator FSSAI against the Bombay High Court verdict lifting ban on nine variants of the fast food and asking the company to go for fresh tests.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant fixed the plea of Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for hearing on January 13 when it will consider its prayer for stay of the High Court verdict.
The present petition is being filed… seeking special leave to appeal against impugned judgement dated August 13/ modified on September 4, passed by the Bombay High Court… vide the judgement, the High Court had quashed the show cause notice (of FSSAI) on the ground that the same violated the principles of natural justice and also passed directions permitting the respondent company (Nestle India) to sell its products if its samples passed fresh tests…”
“Respondent company has been permitted to choose the samples of its products to be given for testing and the High Court has listed out the laboratories that were suggested by the respondent company to carry out the tests, thereby vitiating the very purpose of testing any product under the (Food Safety and Standards) Act,” FSSAI said in its plea.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for FSSAI, said that the laboratories, accredited under the statute, should be allowed to conduct tests on such food products.
The regulator, seeking a stay on “the operation of the impugned final judgement” of the High Court, raised the question of law saying “whether the main duty of the authority (FSSAI) is to regulate or monitor the food products at any stage of production and whose primary concern has to be the safety of the food products being consumed in the country?”
The plea further said whether a show cause notice can be set aside by the High Court in “writ jurisdiction” without first directing the FSSAI to respond to the allegations made in the notice.
The Bombay High Court had on August 13, lifted the ban slapped by food regulators on Nestle India’s nine variants of the fast food in the country while asking the company to go in for fresh tests.
The regulator, in its plea, objected to the observation of the High Court that its notice asking the company to stop manufacturing and sale of Maggi products was violation of the principle of natural justice when it is evident that the firm itself had stopped manufacturing and sale even before the issuance of the notice.
The High Court had allowed Nestle to go in for fresh test to ascertain whether lead content in the popular snack is below permissible limit.
This will be done by sending five samples of each variant of the instant noodles to three independent laboratories in Punjab, Hyderabad and Jaipur which were accredited with National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), it had said.