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Suits filed by milk firms ‘blackmail action’

State milk and dairy development minister K T Rajendra Balaji today moved the Madras High Court, seeking dismissal of the suits by three private milk manufacturers over his statements in the media on quality of their products, saying it “is a blackmail action”.

“The suit is a blackmail action intended to threaten me and to escape the colossal fraud played by the companies on the lives of common innocent public,” he said.

On July 10, admitting the suits moved by Hatsun Agro Product Limited, Dodla Dairy Limited and Vijay Dairy and Farm Products Private Limited, Justice C V Karthikeyan passed an interim order directing the minister not to issue any press statements indirectly or directly disparaging privately manufactured dairy products.

The judge had, however, made it clear that if there was substantial materials to prove adulteration, the minister should specify the name of the private company which indulged in such malpractice and also produce necessary documents to substantiate his charge.

“I have been furnished with materials by public spirited individuals, wherein they have cautioned sale of milk and milk products by private companies adding unnatural ingredients.

“As a minister, I thoroughly scrutinised the records and found genuineness in the allegation. I cannot remain a mute spectator even after being put on notice of such adulteration,” Balaji said.

Claiming that even the Supreme Court has directed the central and the state governments to take appropriate steps to implement Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 in an effective manner, the minister said his action of disseminating information to the public by any stretch of imagination cannot expose him to “tortious proceedings”.

The private companies could not claim that they have not faulted at any point of time in their business, he said, and claimed he has material to prove that the firms had indulged in milk adulteration.

He sought that the court dismiss the suit.

Besides seeking Rs one crore each as damages for charging them with adulterating milk with noxious chemicals, including formaldehyde, the companies had also sought to restrain the minister from making statements or remarks and insinuations directly disparaging the plaintiff’s milk or milk products manufactured and marketed by them to the media.

They had submitted that his remarks were meant to create a “sense of fear and panic” in the minds of consumers, a sense of “disgust and revulsion” on milk and milk products manufactured by private dairies as a whole and their product in particular.

The companies while mentioning the statement by Central Laboratories, had said they had not received any test samples from the Tamil Nadu government.

(This story has not been edited by Dairy News India staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)