Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Government Of India Turns Extortionist: Class Action Suits Come To India, Nestle Sued

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The US is suing itself to death. Suits have become the main occupation in that country, and also the best means to get rich quick. Employees sue their employers, consumers sue everybody, patients sue their doctors. Stratagems are all the time being devised to create opportunity to sue somebody. State governments sue Federal government, and vice versa. NGOs sue companies as part of “class action suits.”

Courts never fail to oblige. Hefty sums devoid of any connection with the actual harm that may have occurred, in fact devoid of any connection with reality, are routinely awarded. In fact, even if a company/individual escapes a suit and wins, that is, isn’t asked to pay any damages, the process itself normally bankrupts most of those against whom the suits are brought. So, most entities prefer out of court settlements, still paying huge sums.

Results for the economy and the society in the US have been devastating. Companies are moving operations elsewhere. Doctors are discontinuing practices. Trust levels have become zero, with people all the time thinking of suing and getting sued. Doing business has become very costly.

No wonder the US economy is dying. The economy, and whole country in fact, is seizing up.  From a land known for the Rule of Law, it has become the land of legalism.

The only people who are thriving are lawyers. No wonder the US has half of world’s lawyers.

The most basic requirement of a law is that it tells citizens what they are not to do, and what will be the punishment if they do it. That is, both, the definition of crime, and quantum of punishment for that crime are to be laid in most clear and unambiguous language. If this has not been done, it is not a law. If still some tortured definition of crime is discovered, and some arbitrary “fine” or damages are awarded, it is not a legal process, it is legal extortion. And a society that sanctions extortion, dies, as the US is dying. In the suits, the crime is arbitrarily defined, and then an arbitrary sum is fined as punishment, based purely on whims and fancies of courts. It makes citizens thoroughly corrupt, who all the time try to find ways to sue somebody.

Now the contagion seems to have reached India.

In a move that will have very far reaching and damaging consequences for the economy and society, the Government of India has brought a suit against Nestle India, demanding an extortionist sum of Rs 640 crore from the hapless company. The cause of this suit is the failure of its Maggi noodle samples to meet the limits set for a couple of chemicals. Though the law doesn’t provide for this punitive fine, government is arbitrarily going ahead, in a gross travesty of law.

If courts award these damages, it will open such a flood of such suits that all of us, and country, will drown in it. In a country that boasts of highest number of NGOs, they would get the best past time and source of earnings- class action law suits against every entity in sight. Citizens themselves, instead of going through the hard slog to become rich, will all the time try to discover ways to sue some entity and extort huge sums in the process.

The chemicals exceeding preset limits do not make something dangerous for health. That depends on the number of doses and quantity in each dose. Law should clearly state that what actions are to be taken against the company which fails to meet the standards, and what will be the quantum of damages. If that has not been done beforehand in the laid down law, the government has no business to demand these damages. It is extortion.

“More than a month after banning Maggi, the government on Tuesday dealt another blow to Nestle India, the manufacturer of the popular two-minute noodle, with a Rs 640 crore damage suit.

In a first-of-its-kind “class action” complaint against Nestle India, the government filed a complaint saying the company had misled consumers with advertisements that claimed that the noodle was a healthy snack.

The complaint — filed through the department of consumer affairs secretary — in the national consumer court accuses Nestle India, a subsidiary of Nestle SA, Switzerland, of promoting noodles containing excessive lead as healthy with the sole aim of enhancing profits.

“…the opponent (Nestle India) has deliberately misled the consumers of the quality, standard and accreditation/approval of Maggi noodles,” it said.

Nestle India said it was yet to receive official notice about the complaint.”(from the news item.)

Read the whole news item here.

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