The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed the US-based agro major Monsanto Technology’s plea to enforce the patent for its BT cotton seeds in India.
A Bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Yogesh Khanna partially allowed the counter-claims of three Indian seed companies that Monsanto did not have a patent for its BT cotton seeds, a genetically modified variant that resists bollworms.
Monsanto has expressed its disappointment over the high court order.
The court also upheld the decision of a single judge on the issue of trait fee payable to Monsanto by the three Indian companies — Nuziveedu Seeds, Prabhat Agri Biotech and Pravardhan Seeds — under a sub-licence. The single judge had said the three companies would pay trait fees to Monsanto according to government-set rates.
Monsanto wanted to charge a higher trait fee under the sub-licence given to the Indian companies to use its seed technology. Both sides had challenged the single judge’s order before the division bench.
After the verdict was pronounced, Monsanto sought that the decision be kept in abeyance for a few weeks so that it could file an appeal in the Supreme Court. The high court declined to keep the operation of its decision in Bench, but granted the US company a certificate of fitness to file an appeal in the apex court.
Reacting to the judgment, a spokesperson for Monsanto India in a statement said: “As a company focused on bringing relevant innovation to India’s farmers, MMB (Mahyco Monsanto Biotech) is very disappointed with today’s order by the Delhi High Court. Over the years MMB has conducted its business in adherence with all applicable laws of India and all our patents were granted after due review under these laws... Today’s order will have wide-ranging, negative implications for biotech-based innovation across many sectors within India, and is inconsistent with other international markets where agricultural innovation has flourished.”
Kalyan Goswami, director general, National Seed Association of India (NSAI), said the judgment upheld the efforts made by intelligentsia to protect rights of farmers and food security of Nation by making appropriate provisions of 3(j) in the Patent act.
Right-wing group Swadeshi Jagran Manch also hailed the verdict.