Five directors of Heinz India Pvt Ltd received a major reprieve last week with the Bombay high court staying criminal proceedings initiated against them by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for advertising one of their products — Complan — as helping children increase their height at double the normal speed.
Justice BR Gavai stayed proceedings against Nilesh Patel, managing director, DP Roy, director (supply chain), K. Deshbrataram, director (sales), Ashok Barat, director (finance and chief financial officer), N Thrumbalam, director (marketing).
The court granted them relief considering the fact that there was no mention in the complaint of their role in day-to-day activities of the company — so as to implead them as accused in the case. The single judge bench of justice BR Gavai has, however, allowed the FDA to go ahead with prosecuting the firm itself and PS Ramesh, its attorney.
The criminal proceedings were initiated by VV Vedpathak, food inspector, FDA on May 30, 2010 following a complaint lodged by a Girgaum based non-governmental organisation, Consumers Action on Safety and Health (CASH). The NGO had complained against the claims made in an advertisement — Complan Pijiye Aur Dugani Raftar Se Badhiye — in November 2009.
Vedpathak forwarded a proposal for prosecuting the company and its directors after he found the advertisement contravened provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. Vedpathak also found that the firm did not have the required licences.