HC takes note of expired products repacked, sold in markets with new dates, seeks response of authorities

The Delhi High Court has taken note of a “coordinated and systematic” mechanism by which expired products are being repackaged and re-branded with new expiry dates and reintroduced into markets and asked the Centre and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to respond to the issue.

The high court initiated on its own a public interest litigation after several such instances of expired products being repackaged with new expiry dates came to light.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora issued notice to the central government, Delhi government, FSSAI and Delhi Police, seeking their response on the matter.

The court appointed advocate Shwetasree Mazumdar as amicus curiae to assist it in the matter and listed it for further hearing on February 8.

The suo motu PIL was initiated after Justice Prathiba M Singh referred the matter to the acting chief justice to be taken up on the judicial side.

Justice Singh was hearing a civil suit filed by the Hershey Company, a well-known chocolate manufacturer, seeking an injunction before the Diwali period against certain rank counterfeiters from selling expired chocolates by re-packaging the same.

She found that the counterfeiters had knowledge of and access to Hershey’s mark and packaging and had blatantly copied them misrepresenting their expired and counterfeit chocolates as the plaintiff’s products.

The single judge, prima facie, concluded that the suit revealed an extraordinary situation involving public health, particularly relating to food products.

The division bench, in its January 8 order, said, “From the order dated December 19, 2023, passed by the single judge, it is apparent that there is a coordinated and systematic mechanism in place by which the expired products are being re-packaged/re-branded with new expiry dates and are being introduced into the markets”.

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