The Madras High Court has directed three private milk manufacturers to get their products tested in a certified lab every three months and submit the report before it, pending disposal of their suits claiming damages from a Tamil Nadu minister over his allegations about their quality.
Also, it granted an interim injunction restraining K T Rajenthra Bhalaji, Minister for Milk and Dairy Development, from making “baseless accusations of adulteration against private dairies in the State as a whole” and from making any statement or remark disparaging either three private milk sellers, who had approached the court seeking damages to the tune of ₹ 1 crore each from the Minister, or their products.
Justice C V Karthikeyan said his July 10 interim order restraining Dairy Development Minister K T Rajendra Balaji from making allegations on quality of the products of the manufacturers without any proof would continue till the disposal of the suits.
The judge was hearing an application filed by the Hatsun Agro Product Ltd, Dodla Dairy Ltd and Vijay Dairy and Farm Products Pvt Ltd.
“The statements by themselves justify an order of injunction… The balance of convenience is also in favour of the plaintiffs since literally they are groping in darkness. No one knows whom the defendant had meant in his press statements. But the statements are sufficient to damage the reputation of all private milk producing companies since all their products would be viewed suspiciously,” the judge observed.
On July 26, Balaji had moved the court, seeking dismissal of the suits saying it “is a blackmail action by the companies)”. He had said even the Supreme Court had directed the central and state governments to take steps to implement the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, effectively.