The worries for Nestle India are far from over. The Bombay High Court lifting the ban notwithstanding, Nestle is faced with a damages suit of Rs 640 crore for its alleged unfair practices pertaining to Maggi instant noodles.
The apex consumer court on Monday accepted the government’s Rs 640-crore suit against Nestle and posted the next date of hearing for September 30.
The bench of the National Consumer Disputed Redressal Commission, presided over by Justice J.K Jain and Justice B.C. Mehta, also wanted to look into the findings of fresh test reports of the popular instant noodles by accredited laboratories.
“The court has sought fresh, sealed samples to be tested by accredited labs. Further course of action will be decided by the ministry (of consumer affairs),” Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain said after the preliminary hearing.
The Department of Consumer Affairs has alleged that Nestle by its “unfair trade practices” vis-a-vis Maggi instant noodles, by selling “defective and hazardous products” has caused injury to millions of consumers, which called for this class action suit.
“This makes for a compelling story of trade practices of a large corporation with vast resources taking advantage of unwary consumers,” the government said in its petition.
Last week, Nestle India had got a significant respite with the Bombay High Court lifting the ban on the sale of nine various instant noodle brand and ordering fresh tests in three separate labs to ascertain that the products complied with the country’s food safety norms.
The conditional relief came following a petition filed by Nestle challenging the regulatory order of June 5 for the withdrawal and recall of nine variants of “Maggi Instant Noodles” and “Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker”.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the industry watchdog, had said in its ban-order of June 5 that tests conducted on a batch of Maggi were found to contain more-than-permissible levels of lead and high quantities of mono-sodium glutamate (MSG).