India: ASG advises Centre to clarify law over cotton seed prices
−− Existing deadlock renders future investments in the sector uncertain, say industry players
Jul. 13, 2017
A letter dated June 16 to the agriculture secretary, Additional Solicitor-General (ASG) Tushar Mehta said, “It is my considered opinion that the central government must file written submissions confining to the questions of law and without touching upon the internal disputes between the two private companies.”
Mehta was responding to a letter written by the agriculture secretary on May 31 seeking a legal view on the various court cases filed by Monsanto and Nuziveedu Seeds over use of the former’s patented technology despite the termination of sub-licence agreements.
Following representations by cotton farmers claiming Monsanto charged different seed prices across states, the government issued the Cotton Seeds Price (Control) Order, 2015, under the Essential Commodities Act to fix seed prices based on the “trait value” along with a patent fee for the developer.
“Any decision on the point of law in the appeal would have a direct impact not only on the interpretation of the existing Indian Patent law as well as PPV&FR Act but also on all pending writ petitions that are being defended by the central government and other central agencies” Mehta’s letter added.
“Having failed to get any interim relief before the Delhi High Court by the subsidiary company of Monsanto, an association sponsored by Monsanto moved to the high court of Karnataka at Bangalore. An ex parte stay was initially granted by a single judge bench, which was vacated later. The central government is contesting the said proceedings vigorously as a result of which even the appeal filed by the said association came to be dismissed,” the letter said.
Earlier, the agriculture ministry had filed a reference before the Competition Commission of India against Monsanto and its subsidiaries for anti-competitive business practices.
The CCI found a prima facie case of violation of various sections of the Competition Act and directed an investigation against Monsanto and its subsidiary companies.