Paving the way for yet another long-stretched litigation, the Madhya Pradesh government has moved the Madras High Court against the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) order that directed the Registrar of Geographical Indications (GI) to issue a GI tag for Basmati rice in India, taking into account the original application filed by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), which excluded the areas of Madhya Pradesh.
While the Madhya Pradesh government has appealed for the setting aside of the IPAB order, the state has also sought an interim stay on the order pending the disposal of the writ petition. The court, which admitted the appeal, issued a notice to Apeda. Apeda has been asked to reply within next three week’s time.
Significantly, the GI Registry, Chennai, on February 15 had issued a certificate of GI for Basmati rice in favour of Apeda, following the IPAB directive.
The court has also made it clear that the GI Registry, which was told by the IPAB to reconsider the plea of the stakeholders from Madhya Pradesh for inclusion in the geographical area of Basmati cultivating area afresh and render a decision in another six months, would proceed with the directive of the tribunal.
The court said that irrespective of the appeal in the court, the GI Registry will have to continue with the task. The court has subsequently adjourned the further hearing of the appeal in April.
The counsel for Madhya Pradesh, while moving the writ petition, appealed that the February 5 order of IPAB is liable to be set aside it evidences non-application of mind by the tribunal. The impugned order does not appreciate the evidence by either party before directing registration of GI in favour of Apeda and relegating the petitioner’s case alone to the GI Registry.
Madhya Pradesh, while seeking a stay of the IPAB order pending disposal of the writ plea, submitted that its implementation will result in causing irreparable harm to Madhya Pradesh and its 80,000 Basmati farmers. The state has also asked the court to dispense with the impugned IPAB order.
In its writ petition, Madhya Pradesh claimed that the state currently produces around one million tonne of Basmati rice in a single paddy season and the order of IPAB would result in immediately altering the status quo which will be detrimental to the state and its 80,000 Basmati farmers and their families.
It added that the IPAB order erroneously presumed that the state never challenged the areas claimed by Apeda as traditional Basmati cultivation areas. The state argued that Apeda has not mapped the exact area where Basmati has been grown and gave a blanket protection to some of the states while it did not pay heed to the request of Madhya Pradesh to include 13 specific districts in the GI application.
IPAB on February 5 order had directed the registrar of geographical indications (GI) to issue certificate of GI for Basmati rice in India within four weeks’ time, taking into consideration the original application filed by Apeda.