The Supreme Court on Thursday lifted stay on the government’s case in National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) against Nestle India. The government is seeking damages of Rs 640 crore from Nestle India for unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements of its Maggi noodles.
The court gave the ruling when Nestle India’s lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi admitted before the court that the led content was present in the popular noodles Maggie. However, the lawyer argued, that the lead content in the noodles were well within the permissible limits.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said, “Why should we be eating Maggi with lead in it?” The bench added that the report of CFTRI, where the samples of Maggi noodles were tested following earlier orders of the court, will form the basis for the proceedings before the NCDRC.
On 16 December 2015, the Supreme Court had stayed the proceedings against Nestle India and asked Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) to place its test report before the court.
“We are of the view that CFTRI report be evaluated by the NCDRC in the complaint before it. It will not be appropriate for this court to pre-empt the jurisdiction of NCDRC… All the rights and contentions of the parties will remain open,” the bench said.
Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for Centre, said that in the wake of the Mysuru lab report the matter should go back to NCDRC and stay on the proceedings should be vacated.
Singhvi along with senior advocate Arvind Dattar opposed sending the matter back to NCDRC saying nothing remains to be decided after the lab report.
The court turned down Singhvi’s argument saying “Why should we usurp the power of NCDRC. We will send the lab reports to the commission and them ask to dispose of the complaint filed before it
The Consumer Affairs Ministry had in 2015 filed a complaint against Nestle India before the NCDRC for causing harm to Indian consumers by allegedly indulging in unfair trade practices and false labelling related to the Maggi noodles product. The ministry said that Nestle India has misled consumers claiming that its Maggi noodle was healthy.