Skip to main content

Bio-piracy: Govt of India lenient, doesn't support litigations, as it would affect foreign investment: Study

By Rajiv Shah
A just-published study has revealed the Government of India (GoI) has not been supporting litigations arising from violating National Biological Diversity (DB) Act, 2002, pointing towards how the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), the country’s watchdog for implementing the Act, has been at the “receiving end” for most of the litigations.
A statutory autonomous body, NBA functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, GoI, and was established in 2003 to comply by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which India signed in 1992.
Insisting that refusal to support legal cases can itself be “very resource draining”, the study, “Litigating India’s Biological Diversity Act: A Study of Legal Cases”, says, “Legal capacity to deal with cases is also quite limited in the bodies set up under the Act”, adding, the GoI “does not undertake the litigation work of the Authority.”
The result is that, according to the study, undertaken by researchers, Shalini Bhutani and Kanchi Kohli, the NBA has to rely on “external lawyers for that purpose.” Worse, it adds, “There are sometimes law internships/placement notes that are put up by law professors before the NBA for its members to consider.”
Suggesting that the situation is not very different with the 28 state-level authorities (state biodiversity boards or SBBs) set up by the NBA, the study says, they miserably lack “litigation expertise”, at a time when “big and powerful companies come with their strong team of equally influential lawyers.”
In fact, the study says, there is an “express prohibition under the Act against foreign nationals taking any bioresources without due permission of the NBA” in the absence of NBA approval, and any violation may attract “penalty of either a jail term extendable to five years or with fine that extends to Rs 10 lakh.”
Yet, the study regrets, “Though forest officials usually man the SBBs, it’s not very often that the BD Act is used by field-level forest officers to deal with smuggling of bioresources, such as exotic wild species.” It adds, this is because the Act has not been “properly known and understood” and is therefore “rarely invoked”.
The study says, the Act and its rules allow the NBA can take up “necessary measures including appointment of legal experts to oppose grant of intellectual property right in any country outside India on any biological resource and associated knowledge obtained from India in an illegal manner.”
Yet, it underlines, the NBA has neither ever invoked this provision of the Act, nor its requisite rule, noting that it “still a lack of a legal/monitoring cell to keep track of and contest IPRs given outside the country, based on biological resources (or associated traditional knowledge) derived from India.”
This is because, according to the study, in cases of ‘biopiracy’ involving a foreign national or a
company registered in India but with foreign shareholding, the GoI “does not want to appear unduly strict on this matter, as the apprehension is that it will be a disincentive to foreign investors.”
The study, funded Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), Anand, Gujarat, with research carried out in collaboration with Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, analyses 50 cases with respect to provisions of the BD Act or its rules/ guidelines between 2004 and 2016.

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”