The Madras High Court has granted an interim injunction against Tamil Nadu Dairy Development authorities collecting dairy products samples from Hatsun Agro Products, for analysis. The court passed the order, including four week’s notice, following a petition from Hatsun asking it to prohibit officials from the Dairy Development Department, which does not have the appropriate authority under law, to collect samples and test its milk and milk products.
Hatsun approached the court after officials under the Commissioner of Dairy Development, who also heads Aavin, the cooperative milk producing and marketing company, drew samples from one of the company’s dealers for testing.
The company has pointed out that the Department concerned has “no scope” or “authority” and “there is no laboratory to which such samples could be sent for lawful analysis.” It is only the Food Safety and Standards Authority that can take such action under the prevailing laws. Even Aavin is subject to inspection by FSSA, and products can be tested only in designated labs.
In its affidavit — in which it has named KT Rajenthra Bhalaji, Tamil Nadu Dairy Development Minister, as a respondent — the company has said that he had made “bizarre and unsubstantiated” statements denigrating private sector dairy products in general.
Injunction against minister
Hatsun and two other dairy companies have sued him seeking damages and a permanent injunction restraining him from making disparaging remarks. The court has granted interim injunction restraining him. The company said the Dairy Development Department does not have any jurisdiction over private dairy companies after the Milk and Milk Products Order and Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 were repealed when the prevailing Food Safety and Standards Authority Act 2006 and Rules 2011 came into effect.
Hatsun also said the State government’s policy statement has acknowledged that it no longer has the power or authority to test private sector dairy samples. The Commissioner of Dairy Development also heads the Aavin, which is a competitor in the market. Therefore, there is a conflict of interest, as a regulator cannot be allowed to compete in the same field of commercial activity.
Source: Business Line
Published on: August 1, 2017