The Bombay High Court on Thursday lifted the ban on nine variants of Maggi noodles but ordered fresh tests to ensure compliance with Indian food safety norms.
A division bench comprising Justice V M Kanade and Justice B P Colabawala observed that principles of natural justice were not followed while banning the product.
“Principles of natural justice were not followed because the manufacturer was not given a hearing. Moreover, the laboratories, where tests were performed to determine lead content in Maggi, were not authorised,” the court observed.
Nestle India, the makers of Maggi, has sought interpretation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2011, while seeking judicial review of the order dated June 6 passed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Maharashtra and the order dated June 5 passed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Maggi was banned due to the high content of lead and mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), a taste enhancer. Nestle, however, had recalled its entire stock from across the country.
In its order, the court allowed Nestle to go in for fresh testing by sending five samples of each variant to three independent laboratories in Mohali, Hyderabad and Jaipur, which are accredited with National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories.
These samples would be taken out of the 750 samples preserved by the company following the ban. “If the lead content is found below permissible limits by these three labs, the company will be allowed to manufacture Maggi,” the court observed.
The laboratories have been asked to submit their report within six weeks.
The court, however, refused to grant stay on their order on a plea made by FSSAI and FDA.
“The company had given an undertaking that it would not manufacture or sell Maggi till the results of the three labs were received. The fresh tests would also take some time. Hence, there was no need to grant a stay on the order,” the judges said.
The high court also held that the petitions filed by Nestle challenging the nationwide ban on Maggi was maintainable and that it had the jurisdiction to hear it under powers derived by it under Article 226 of the Constitution.