The Bombay High Court has lifted the ban on Maggi, the flagship instant-noodles brand from Nestle. The court clarified that this was conditional on Nestle conducting fresh tests within six weeks at three labs in Mohali, Jaipur and Hyderabad. It wasn't immediately clear whether Nestle is allowed to instantly bring Maggi back to store shelves or only after results from the tests were clear.
Bombay High Court quashes orders of food regulators banning Maggi noodles.— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) August 13, 2015
Even as the consumer affairs ministry was gearing up to sue Nestle India for a staggering Rs 640 crore, the court order comes as an indictment of the way the ban was effected. According to PTI, the court noted that, "...principles of natural justice were not followed..." and that "...the laboratories were the tests were done were not authorised..."
HuffPost India hasn't seen a copy of the court order and no comments were immediately available from spokespersons at Nestle India.
On June 5, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) ordered Nestle India to withdraw all nine variants of Maggi instant noodles from the market terming them “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption.
The ban had an immediate impact on Nestle's profits after it recently posted its first quarterly loss in nearly two decades.
The company had earlier argued in court that the FSSAI, while passing the order, had acted in an “emergent, drastic and arbitrary” fashion while raising doubts over his jurisdiction. Nestle also argued that the food regulator had not served any notice before the ban.
According to the FSSAI, the bone of contention is Maggi noodles having excessive lead content, which Nestle India has denied. The company has also been accused of misleading the customers by mentioning “no added msg” on its packets. On the contrary, Nestle India has argued in HC that before asking them to ban the product, there ought to have been a mention of injury or risk to health by the company. Therefore, it was argued in court, that the merely by claiming there was a quality issue, the order could not have been passed.
The company claimed it has been operating in India for 30 years, in additional to having a worldwide reach. Children are being told that they are consuming poison, which is worrisome for its credibility and reputation, it was argued. Today’s order will put an end the long-drawn legal tussle between Nestle India and food authorities of both Maharashtra state and centre.