MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court will hear a plea by the Indian arm of Swiss multinational Nestle seeking a judicial review of the food safety regulator’s order calling for the withdrawal of its top-selling nine variants of Maggi instant noodles on health issues. A division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice B.P. Colabawala posted the matter for Friday after the company’s lawyer mentioned it in the court on Thursday. Earlier, the matter had been listed for June 18.
The company’s lawyer mentioned the the revision application appeal against the impugned orders passed by authorities in Delhi and Maharashtra and urged the court to hear it on an urgent basis as Nestle had suffered losses following the foor regulator’s order. The order had directed the company to withdraw and recall its products from the markets immediately as they were “hazardous to public health due to presence of lead more than permissible limits”.
The company urged the court to quash the June 5 order of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) asking the company to withdraw and recall its Maggi variants from the Indian market – which the company complied with. The order also directed Nestle to stop production, processing, import, distribution and sale of the “hazardous products” with immediate effect. Similarly, the company has urged setting aside the order of the Commissioner of Food Safety, Maharashtra, banning the production and sale of Maggi products in the state since last Friday.
The company has contended that these orders fail to comply with the mandatory provisions of FSSAI Sec. 34 which deals with emergency prohibiton notices and ordes, and that the orders were passed without any authority or following the due process of law.
Nestle further contended that these orders were illegal and arbitrary and violative of the principles of natural justice as well as the Indian constitution. Earlier on Thursdy, Nestle, in a filing with stock exchanges, said it was also seeking a similar review of a June 6 order passed by the Food and Drug Administration of Maharashtra.
“At the same time, we are continuing the withdrawal of Maggi products. This action (moving the court) will not interfere with this (withdrawal) process. We shall proceed further as per the orders that may be passed by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court,” Nestle India further added. In technical terms, Nestle moved the court over issues pertaining to the interpretation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2011.
Nestle had been ordered to withdraw Maggi by the food safety regulator after some samples were allegedly found to contain higher-than-permissible levels of lead – a premise that was rejected by the company, saying its own independent tests suggested otherwise. Several states have also issued their own ban orders, even as the regulator widened its testing process to other brands of instant noodles and pasta with tastemaker.