Citizens' Issues
Consumer court allows Nestle to go for fresh Maggi tests
During the hearing, the bench expressed doubt over the government's cause of action, saying the Bombay High Court's judgment in the matter had dealt with the issue of lead content
 
The apex consumer court on Monday sought Nestle India's response on the government's Rs.640-crore unfair trade practice class action suit related to Maggi noodles, allowed fresh tests in approved labs and fixed Sep 30 as the next date of hearing.
 
A bench of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, comprising Justice V.K. Jain and Justice B.C. Gupta, directed Nestle to respond to the notice by Sep 30 and allowed the government to send samples of Maggi noodles to an accredited laboratory for tests on lead content and MSG.
 
"The court has accepted to hear the case for unfair trade practice and misleading consumers through advertisements and packaging," Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain said after the preliminary hearing.
 
During the hearing, the bench expressed doubt over the government's cause of action, saying the Bombay High Court's judgment in the matter had dealt with the issue of lead content.
 
It said since the high court had rejected the government's current reports on lead content -- for not being from an accredited laboratory -- there was no report to prove the government's contention that Nestle was selling hazardous products.
 
The government's counsel, Sanjay Jain, replied that the government had approached the consumer forum on a "broader issue". 
 
The central government was dealing with the question of whether Nestle had "all this while" sold a product which did not meet India's food safety standards, he said.
 
Jain said later: "The court has sought fresh, sealed samples to be tested by accredited labs. Further course of action will be decided by the ministry (of consumer affairs)."
 
After a 30-minute hearing, the forum agreed to the petitioner's request to have Maggi samples tested at an accredited lab, and issued the notice to Nestle to respond to the government's accusations.
 
No specific mention was made on which laboratories the samples would be sent.
 
The Department of Consumer Affairs had alleged that Nestle by its "unfair trade practices" vis a vis Maggi instant noodles, by selling "defective and hazardous products" has caused injury to millions of consumers, which called for this class action suit.
 
"It is now apparent that Maggi and its variants are neither healthy nor enjoyable. Quite the contrary, they are far from the quality and standard what even the opponent company had claimed them to be, while seeking approval," the government had said in its petition.
 
The petition said: "The department is keen to safeguard against companies selling defective foodstuff or other products in utter disregard of the existing laws."
 
Last week, Nestle India had got a significant respite with the Bombay High Court lifting the ban on the sale of nine instant noodle brands and ordering fresh tests in three separate labs to ascertain that the products complied with the country's food safety norms.
 
The conditional relief came following a petition filed by Nestle challenging the regulatory order of June 5 for the withdrawal and recall of nine variants of "Maggi Instant Noodles" and "Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker".
 
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the industry watchdog, had said in its ban order of June 5 that tests conducted on a batch of Maggi were found to contain more-than-permissible levels of lead and high quantities of mono-sodium glutamate (MSG).

 

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COMMENTS

Veeresh Malik

1 year ago

The big question here is - how do these MNC processed food manufacturers maintain their supply chain for raw materials, especially liquids like edible oils and molasses? Do they use global standards of ISO tank containers insulated, pressurised and temperature controlled or just ordinary lorries with tanks built on them? Do they ensure that non-spec cargoes do not move on return empty legs, or are the transporters allowed to carry whatever they want? How often are the pipelines and valves dismantled for cleaning, how are the insides of the tanks cleaned?

All this and more, can be seen on the roads and in the parking lots outside their factories. And that is where the truth lies too.

Can Yellen still surprise with a September rate hike?
If China decides to devalue further in the coming weeks, then I will stand corrected and we will witness another round of very volatile choppy moves across the financial markets
 
After all the excitement and hyper-analysis of the yuan devaluation, global markets have read Beijing’s intervention in the currency market as China’s attempt for further financial liberalization rather than a stimulus package or an all out currency war.
 
This is evident as most of the moves in the global major currency crosses, rates and equities have been reversed (excluding the Asian FX space). If China decides to devalue further in the coming weeks, then I will stand corrected and we will witness another round of very volatile choppy moves across the financial markets.
 
The focus will now shift back to when the US Federal Reserve will tighten monetary policy, for the first time in nine years. Due to the risk off nature of the China devaluation, markets have moved the implied probability of a September hike from roughly 60 percent to 50 percent since last Monday and 10-year US bond yields have fallen 13 basis points. Whether it was the Greek crisis or China now, the US Fed will need to understand that there will always be global factors which it can use as an excuse to delay monetary tightening. The next round of dreadful news flow can come out of Spain or Portugal, or an escalating of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, or maybe another phase of capitulation in the Chinese equity markets. However, the Fed will soon have to look beyond these potential external risks if domestic fundamentals are suitable for a interest rate hike.
 
If Fed chief Janet Yellen is to stick to her ‘data dependent’ approach towards monetary tightening, there is absolutely no chance of a September liftoff. While US job creation data remains robust, wage inflation remains extremely weak. The Fed’s favourite indicator to read wage pressures is the employment cost index (ECI). Data released two weeks ago showed that the ECI rose by 0.2 percent QoQ in 2Q15, down from 0.7 percent QoQ in 1Q15, with private industry ECI growth falling from 0.7 percent QoQ in 1Q15 to 0.0 percent in 2Q15. 
 
A CLSA research notes that “While on a year-on-year basis, the employment cost index growth slowed from 2.6 percent YoY in 1Q15 to 2.0 percent YoY in 2Q15, the slowest annualised growth rate since 2Q14. The private sector ECI growth also slowed from 2.8 percet YoY to 1.9 percent YoY with the growth in the wages and salaries component decelerating from 2.8 percent YoY to 2.2 percent YoY. Further dashing the hopes of cyclical bulls, this was the smallest quarter-on-quarter gain in the ECI since 1982.”
Capitulation in commodity prices, especially energy, will further add to global disinflationary pressures. Unless the Fed is looking at some other data which is signaling wage inflation, the possibility of a September rate hike looks remote.  

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Madhya Pradesh CM spent Rs 3 crore on five-day US trip: RTI reply
The RTI reply revealed that the expenditure for hotel rooms and air travel was Rs.30 lakh ($46,000) each ($5,750 per head), while Rs.25 lakh was spent on taxi rides, Rs.6 lakh went for daily perks
 
An eight-member delegation led by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spent close to Rs.3 crore ($465,000/$58,000 per head) on a five-day US trip in February, which included giving expensive gifts to investors, the reply to an RTI querry has revealed.
 
The reply, received from the Madhya Pradesh Trade and Investment Facilitation Corporation Limited by whistle blower Ajay Dubey in July, revealed that on its visit to the US to meet American business leaders and potential investors, the delegation spent Rs.198,421 on gifts.
 
It also mentioned that 10 woollen shawls worth Rs.119,990 (Rs.11,999 each) were gifted to the guests, apart from ties and silver idols worth Rs.78,431. The visit was from January 31 to February 4 on the invitation of the US-India Business Council to meet business community leaders and investors.
 
The RTI reply also revealed that the expenditure for hotel rooms and air travel was Rs.30 lakh ($46,000) each ($5,750 per head), while Rs.25 lakh was spent on taxi rides, Rs.6 lakh went for daily perks and Rs.1.30 crore in rental for the 'Friends of MP Conclave' venue. Another Rs.75 lakh was spent on other promotional and miscellaneous charges. The total expenditure was Rs.2.96 crore over five days.
 
Among the others who accompanied the chief minister were Yashodhara Raje Scindia, the minister for commerce, industry and employment, Mohammed Suleman, principal secretary, department of commerce, industry & employment; S.K. Mishra, principal secretary to the chief minister; Vivek Aggarwal, secretary to the chief minister; Anupam Rajan, MD, of the MP Laghu Udyog Nigam Ltd. (MP Small Scale Industries Corporation); Manish Singh, MD, Madhya Pradesh Audyogik Kendra Vikas Nigam (Indore) Limited; and Devhuti Bakshi of Ernst & Young.
 
"The chief minister was planning another foreign tour to Sweden recently, but this was cancelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To spend almost Rs.3 crore on a five-day tour to the US is huge. It is a lot of money for a state like Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, making a foreign tour to meet potential investors when Vyapam scam was at its peak is not acceptable," Dubey told IANS.
 
Madhya Pradesh has been mired in the Vyapam scam for years but the irregularities eventually came to light when 20 people were arrested in 2013 for impersonating candidates appearing for the 2009 medical entrance examination.
 
Forty-five people associated with the Vyapam scam have died - mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances.
 
The CBI has already registered 67 FIRs and launched 12 preliminary inquiries into the Vyapam scam.

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COMMENTS

Anand Vaidya

1 year ago

How much Gov money did Rahul Gandhi spend when he vanished to some far off country (Thailand?) for 56+ days?

How much did Sonia Gandhi spend from our tax money on her medical tours to USA (estimates put it at 1800 Crores).

Any RTI on these?

Srinivas

1 year ago

a simple search on expedia or booking.com would have given an idea of the cost of premium hotels in whichever cities the CM visited - A 5* hotel in Europe is usually around 200-300 Euros only, so should be similar in USA too.

Thus we can easily conclude that this was a scam - someone made money. Hopefully the CM who claims to be clean should find the guy(s) behind this and their heads should roll.

Gupta

1 year ago

We will spend all our life monitoring these tit bits of expenditure and keep missing the big picture. The total expenditure of central and state governments annually is a staggering 25 lac crore rupees approximately. But we will be lost in the details of these petty few lacs and crores on foreign trips and Parliament expenses and on the other hand scams of thousands and lacs of crores go unnoticed. Journalists in India need to grow up to focus on real issues rather than waste time on such articles. Spend the knowledge and energy on better things!

Ravi Patnaik

1 year ago

To present the right perspective, the columnist should have provided comparative data for similar visits by CMs of other states as also the effects of such visits by state CMs. Otherwise, raw data presented with out context gives disproportionate picture, particularly when it relates to activities undertaken in western nations.

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