A division bench of the High Court of Karnataka dismissed an appeal by the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE), which had claimed that ‘Bt cotton seeds’ are not really ‘cotton seeds’ and therefore the Indian government cannot put a cap on its selling price. The HC’s judgement comes as a boon to cotton farmers across India who can now have a control on the input costs.
ABLE’s appeal was heard by the division bench of Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice B Veerappa. After the hearing, the judgement had been reserved last month. Earlier this year, a single-judge bench of the HC had given a stay on the Union government’s price cap but in a subsequent interim order on May 3, 2016, vacated the stay.
ABLE then approached the division bench. It was a high-profile hearing with senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi arguing for ABLE and Namdhari Seeds Pvt Ltd. On the other side, the respondents included the Government of India, National Seed Association of India, Co-ordination Committee of Farmers Movements and activist Vandana Shiva.
The issue over pricing of Btcotton seeds started with the department of agriculture imposing an upper ceiling on the sale of genetically-modified cottonseeds with the Cotton Seeds Price (Control) Order, on December 7, 2015. The seed value, licence fee including royalty or trait value, dealer margins and taxes were all fixed with an upper limit. A committee was constituted to recommend the maximum sale price of Bt cotton seeds for the year 2016-17. The committee recommended the price on March 8, 2016. The maximum price of BG-I version was fixed at Rs 645 and Rs 800 for the BG-II version for 450 grams.
Business Standard, 22 July 2016
By Dr Vandana Shiva, 27 March 2016
— Dr. Vandana Shiva (@drvandanashiva) July 28, 2016