CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has restrained Milk and Dairy Development Minister K T Rajenthra Bhalaji from making any statements or remarks disparaging the three private milk producers - Hatsun Agro Products Limited, Chennai, Dodla Dairy in Hyderabad and Vijay Dairy & Farm Products Private Limited in Tiruchy - or their products either in print or visual media, by making baseless accusations of adulteration as a whole, pending disposal of civil suits.
Justice C V Karthikeyan granted the injunction while passing interim orders on the civil suits from the three companies praying for a direction to the minister to pay `1 crore to each one of them as damages and for permanent injunction, restraining him from making any statement, disparaging the plaintiffs or their milk products, to the media, both print and visual and from making baseless accusations of adulteration, on Friday.
The judge also directed the three companies to subject their milk and milk products for voluntary test analysis in accredited laboratories, in accordance with the procedure laid down in law, once every three months and file the reports before the court. The results can be used by both sides to justify their respective stands during trial, the judge added.
Justifying the grant of interim injunction, the judge observed that prima facie, the statements extracted from the reports in the newspapers clearly revealed that the minister had launched an all-out attack on private milk and milk product producers. He had made very shocking revelations and it is up to him to justify them. But the tenor of the statements indicate that unless there is an order of injunction, the pitch would only increase, to the detriment of all private milk producers.
The minister must realise that honest workmen in the employ of private milk companies like the plaintiff companies would be the first sufferers of such a tirade. They would be direct victims if suddenly sales of privately manufactured milk and milk products fall and the companies feel the pinch of such a vitriolic campaign.
The balance of convenience is also in favour of the three companies since literally they are groping in darkness. No one knows whom the minister 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. There was also no indication whether the minister would rest in his assertions or whether he would produce test analysis reports to justify his statements. It is also not known whether he is in possession of any test analysis reports to justify his statements. The statements by themselves justify an order of injunction, the judge added.