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The suit claiming compensation to the tune of Rs 640 crore from the global dairy products major Nestle by the Indian government is coming up for hearing before a bench of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission(NCDRC) here today. The government had filed a class action suit against Nestle India on August 11 after it was found that the manufacturer of popular Maggi noodles was selling several of its products containing ingredients unapproved by the Indian food safety regulator.

The Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, acting as a representative of interests of the consumers in general under Section 12(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act, has dragged Nestle India to the court on grounds of “unfair trade practices, sale of defective goods and sale of Maggi Oats Noodles to the public without product approval.”


The government has sought a sum of Rs 284, 55,00,000 that the company is liable to pay and a sum of Rs. 355,40,70,000 as punitive damages on account of the “gross negligence, apathy and callousness” on the part of the company — a claim adding up to Rs.639,95,70,000 precisely. The lawyers from both sides have remained tight-lipped about the content of the suit. Class action suit by the government on behalf of its citizens is perhaps first of its kind in Indian legal history with exception to Bhopal gas tragedy.

Compensation under law of torts, a popular and powerful tool in the hands of citizens in the US and Western democracies, is a seldom exploited provision in Indian courts. In the case of Bhopal gas tragedy, the Indian government in February 1985 had moved a US court for a claim of $3.3 billion against the Union Carbide. But US court transferred the case to India on the grounds of ‘non conveniens'(not a convenient forum for litigant). Union Carbide had continued to fight back. UNI PRA SB 1118