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PepsiCo withdraws one of three lawsuits filed against Gujarat farmers

PepsiCo had filed the suit against potato farmers Fulchandbhai Kachchhawa and Sureshbhai Kachchhawa at the Deesa court for growing FC-5 variety of potato

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 

A potato farmer at work | Photo: Archis Mohan

India Monday withdrew one of the lawsuits it had filed against for allegedly growing a variety of for which the food and beverages giant claimed to have secured exclusive rights.

India Holdings Pvt Ltd made a submission in this regard before the court of principal senior civil and commercial court judge S B Rahatkar at Deesa town in Banaskantha district.

"The plaintiff wishes to withdraw the captioned matter relying on its discussions with the government to find a long-term and an amicable solution of issues around its seed protection," told the court.

The US-based firm had filed the suit against farmers and at the Deesa court for growing variety of for which the company had claimed to have obtained plant variety protection (PVP) rights.

PepsiCo had filed the suit against the duo last month.

Altogether, 11 farmers were dragged to three different courts in Gujarat for alleged infringement of rights over the particular variety of potato, with the company making damage claims of up to Rs 1 crore from each cultivator.

Apart from the two farmers in Deesa, PepsiCo had filed lawsuits against agriculturists from Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts on similar grounds.

While the other cases will come up for hearing later, this is the first of the three lawsuits for which PepsiCo has made a formal move for withdrawal.

The move comes after the company last week announced it will withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers, following a meeting its executives had with state government officials in Gandhinagar.

Lawyer Anand Yagnik, representing the farmers in the courts, maintained the withdrawal of the case "appears to be motivated and malicious".

In a statement, Yagnik demanded the state government "make it clear in writing about what transpired between them and PepsiCo and give assurance that it shall not allow multinational to litigate against its own farmers".

Over 190 activists had last month come out in support of the farmers and requested the Union government to ask PepsiCo to withdraw its "false" cases.

In a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, 194 signatories had sought financial aid and protection of rights of farmers sued for growing and selling potato variety for which PepsiCo claimed to have obtained "exclusive rights in the country in 2016".

First Published: Mon, May 06 2019. 22:29 IST