The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has directed the registrar of geographical indications (GI) to issue a GI certificate for Basmati rice in India within four weeks, considering the original application filed by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda).
The IPAB has also asked the registrar to consider the plea of the stakeholders from Madhya Pradesh for inclusion in the geographical area afresh — this was the trigger for litigation — taking into account the fresh documents and other evidences as in another six months.
“The registrar of the GI Registry shall grant a GI tag for Basmati rice in respect of the geographic region and areas specified by Apeda in GI application. We have no hesitation to hold that Apeda is entitled to get GI tag for the region and areas specified in the certified maps of Basmati rice grown areas produced in GI application. Accordingly, the registrar of the GI Registry shall proceed with the registration of GI for Basmati rice and the certificate of registration is to be issued within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of the order copy of this bench,” the IPAB bench said in a landmark judgment on Friday.
Striking a balance, the IPAB bench comprising justice K N Basha, chairman, and Sanjeev Kumar Chaswal, technical member, said: “Consequently, we are directing the assistant registrar, GI Registry, Chennai to consider the matter afresh in relation to the claim of opponents for the inclusion of the state of Madhya Pradesh more particularly in respect of the places mentioned by the counsel for stakeholders from MP, namely, Monera, Bhind, Gwalior, Sheopur, Datia, Shivpuri, Guna, Vidisha, Raisen, Sehore, Hoshangabad, Jabalpur and Narsingpur by affording reasonable opportunity to Apeda and the opponents.” The IPAB bench order said that the assistant registrar shall reconsider the matter afresh in respect of the claim of the inclusion of the areas specified in the state of Madhya Pradesh and other places mentioned in the impugned order by the assistant registrar by affording reasonable opportunity to both sides, and by receiving any further evidence from both sides, and pass an order in accordance with the law within the period of six months from the date of receipt of the order copy of this bench.
Coming down heavily on the assistant registrar for not considering the documents and evidence filed by Apeda while arriving at a decision to the effect that MP needs to be included, the IPAB said that the impugned order was with infirmities and illegalities. The tribunal said that the findings were not only erroneous but also rendered in flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice. “At the risk of repetition, it is to be reiterated that the assistant registrar has placed reliance only on the basis of the evidence relied by the entities from MP and the said evidence were not at all tested and analysed in a proper manner by comparing such evidence with that of the counter-claim and evidence produced by Apeda and their evidence have been simply brushed aside and over looked,” the bench said.
The IPAB bench has also dismissed a plea by the Basmati Growers Association (BGA), Pakistan which was joined as a party in the case. “It is for the BGA to agitate their rights and establish their claims before the High Court of Sindh at Karachi. The appellant without taking steps to substantiate their claim in respect of Basmati rice in their country, namely Pakistan, there is no justification for them to intervene and interfere in the proceedings initiated by Apeda in respect of getting GI tag for Basmati rice covering the areas within the territory of India as specified in the maps filed along with the GI application”, the IPAB said. Apeda had filed an application with the GI Registry to register the name Basmati for rice covering geographies under Indo-Gangetic plain, such as Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir, omitting Madhya Pradesh, triggering protest from Daawat Foods and farmers from the state, as well as opposition from the state government itself.
Following opposition from various quarters, the assistant registrar has asked the Apeda to file an amended application incorporating uncovered states, including Madhya Pradesh, against which Apeda moved the IPAB with an appeal.
* The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has directed the registrar of geographical indications (GI) to issue a certificate of GI for Basmati rice in India within four weeks, considering the original application filed by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority
* The IPAB has also asked the registrar to consider the plea of the stakeholders from Madhya Pradesh for inclusion in the geographical area afresh — this was the trigger for litigation — taking into account fresh documents and other evidence