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SC revives class-action suit against Maggi, Nestle terms it partial victory

The apex court’s ruling means that Nestle may have to review its packaging and change the way it advertises the noodles brand

The Supreme Court on Thursday lifted a stay on the proceedings of a class-action suit filed by the central government against the maker of Maggi noodles in the apex consumer court.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) can now continue proceedings against Nestle India, based on the results of tests of Maggi noodle samples conducted by the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) in Mysuru.

In December 2015, the top court had stayed NCDRC proceedings against Nestle India and directed the testing of the noodles by CFTRI. In April next year, Nestle cleared all tests and Maggi was declared safe for consumption.

The government had approached the consumer court alleging unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements by Nestle and sought a compensation of ₹640 crore under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The apex court’s ruling on Thursday means that Nestle may have to review its packaging and change the way it advertises the noodles brand.

Reacting on the apex court’s decision, food major said the ruling marked a partial victory in its row with the government over Maggi noodles.

The Supreme Court backed Nestle's stance that analysis of Maggi noodles already conducted by the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) sufficed to help decide a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, the company said.

That analysis showed that samples met standards for lead and other parameters, Nestle added.

The ruling set aside efforts by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) to conduct more tests, Nestle said, adding the case would now proceed based on the CFTRI reports.

Maggi, Nestle India's single-largest revenue earner, was banned in June 2015 for six months across the country following allegations it contained chemicals beyond prescribed limits.

The company had to recall and destroy 38,000 tonnes of Maggi noodles from millions of retail shelves. The ban was relaxed in November 2015.

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