Apex consumer court to hear on fresh Maggi tests next week

New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) The apex consumer court on Wednesday said it will hear Nestle’s arguments on fresh tests to be conducted on its popular Maggi noodles on October 8, and take up the larger class action suit filed against the Swiss giant by the end of next month.

The decision was taken after a 30-minute initial hearing of arguments at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, regarding the class action suit filed by the central government against Nestle India for alleged unfair trade practices.

A bench of the NCDRC, comprising Justice V.K. Jain and Justice B.C. Gupta, said the court will meet again on October 8 to hear the arguments of Nestle India over the fresh tests. The final arguments will be heard on October 30.

Appearing for the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain sought more time from the commission to discuss on the fresh tests of 27 sealed samples of different Maggi variants collected from the market, to which Nestle had raised objections.

Jain, along with counsel Mrinalini Sen Gupta and Prabhsahay Kaur, also placed before the court the samples of different variants they wished to be tested. But the Nestle counsel wanted to know from where these had been collected since the product was withdrawn from the market on June 5.

A notice was issued to Nestle India with regard to the government asking for fresh tests on Maggi samples. The commission would take up this matter as well on October 8.

Nestle’s counsel Arvind Nigam questioned where the samples collected by the government would be tested, raising an issue over the accreditation of labs that would verify them. The commission asked Nestle India why it should have a problem with fresh tests. “The government wasn’t producing the product,” it said.

A notice was also served on the government, based on Nestle India’s plea seeking the dismissal of the class action suit, following the revocation of ban on Maggi by the Bombay High Court order, that had, nevertheless, also ordered fresh tests at accredited labs.

The government’s counsel had also filed an application to allow the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as a party to assist the commission.

“Given that FSSAI has a part to play in the food laws, we have filed an application to allow them to be a party in the case,” government’s counsel Mrinalini Sen Gupta told IANS after the hearing.

During the hearing, Nestle India said the company has been singled out and questioned why its competitor brands weren’t being tested. Each noodle product has glutamate present in it, counsel representing Nestle India said.

Nestle India said over 9,000 suppliers of Maggi noodles were out of business as a result of the issue, and over 10,000 – 12,000 distributors also have lost livelihood. It added that the company wished to resolve the matter as soon as possible and was “not interested in delaying it”.

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