After hearing arguments for over a fortnight, the Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its order in the legal battle between Nestle India and food authorities of the Union and state governments over the nationwide ban on Maggi noodles.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had on June 5 ordered Nestle India to withdraw all nine variants of Maggi instant noodles from the market terming them “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption. The company argued that CEO of FSSAI, while passing the order had acted in an “emergent, drastic and arbitrary” fashion, raising queries over his jurisdiction. Nestle also argued that the food regulator had not served any notice before ordering the ban. A similar order was passed by the Maharashtra Food and Drug Authority.
The High Court had on Thursday suggested, and today reiterated, that the samples retained by Nestle India could be tested in consultation with the state Food and Drug Authority (FDA) and FSSAI.
Justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawalla suggested that the FSSAI and the FDA could select random samples from the 750 crates of Maggi noodles with the company in Delhi. They said that fresh tests could take place in five laboratories decided mutually by the company and the food authorities.
Nestle India agreed to the proposal on the condition that the tests would be conducted only under the supervision of specific experts in the field that Nestle would provide.
The company even gave a list of three such experts and 10 labs where tests could be conducted.
However, both the FDA and the FSSAI responded negatively to the suggestion. They argued that it was not valid under the FSS Act. Mahmood Pracha, the counsel for FSSAI, said, “ There is no provision for such a testing according to the law, we will not follow a different procedure because of Nestle.”
The HC also made it clear that if the parties did not agree, it had the option to give appropriate directions. The High Court is likely to announce its verdict on August 3.