The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from Nestle India on an appeal by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) against lifting the ban on popular instant Maggi noodles.
A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra waived off the formal notice as Nestle’s counsel Harish Salve accepted the notice and said he would file a reply to the petition by January 5.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the FSSAI, said he was not pressing for an immediate stay of the Bombay High Court order but, he wanted to draw the court’s attention towards the difficulties being faced by the good regulator in view of the HC order. The bench agreed to examine FSSAI’s contentions on January 13.
After a favourable HC order, Swiss giant Nestle had relaunched its instant noodle on November 9.
The FSSAI, in its petition, has questioned the “sanctity” of the samples provided to the government-approved labs for the re-test, contending that the High Court had asked Nestle to provide samples whereas it should have been picked up randomly from the market. As per the sources, seeking Maggi samples from Nestle vitiated the entire procedure of re-testing and that a neutral authority should have ideally lifted the samples.
Further, the petition has claimed that the Bombay High Court allowed substantial changes in its order when Nestle filed a plea for correction of the original order on the ground of there being certain typographical errors.
“This led to a substantial impact on the outcome of the proceeding before the High Court,” FSSAI officials said.
They added that stacking Maggi back on shelves without a fresh permission from the authorities also amounts to a breach of a pertinent provision in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
In August, the High Court had quashed the orders of FSSAI and Maharashtra food regulator FDA, which had banned nine variants of Maggi noodles in the country. It had said that the principles of natural justice were not followed in executing the ban as the manufacturer was not given a hearing. The court had allowed Nestle to go in for fresh testing of five samples of each variant of the noodles at three independent laboratories in Punjab, Hyderabad and Jaipur which were accredited with National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
It had clarified that these samples would be taken out of the 750 samples preserved by the company following the ban and if the lead content was found below permissible limits by the three labs, Nestle India will be allowed to manufacture Maggi noodles. Subsequently, Nestle had announced that tests done on fresh Maggi samples provided to government approved labs were found safe and retail sales would start shortly.