The NDA government has received a shot in the arm with Supreme Court commending its steps to protect biodiversity. The court held that there was no need for a directive to the government to set up a permanent body to oversee preservation of biodiversity or for raising claims at international forum for patent rights.
“We see no real reason to direct the constitution of any department, committee or board at this stage, especially when the government does appear to us to be taking all necessary steps required for preservation of biodiversity,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur said.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed in 2004 by an NGO — Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology — seeking directions for the Centre to challenge the patenting of wheat by US company Monsanto before the European office.
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The petition contended that since the wheat variety sought to be patented was derived from traditional Indian wheat referred to as ‘Nap Hal’, the government should raise due claim before the European office and seek correction in records. It also sought setting up of a permanent mechanism to protect biodiversity.
The government, however, informed the bench that it would not serve any purpose to contest the US’ patent of a wheat variety, similar to Indian ‘Nap Hal’, because the patent granted to Monsanto expired in 2010. Maintaining that the biscuit industry in India was not adversely affected due to this patent, the government said huge costs involved in litigation in the US in challenging this patent were unwarranted.