Additional solicitor general Mukul Rohatagi, appearing on behalf of the government on Friday told a Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice VN Khare, and justices SB Sinha and SH Kapadia that the government is not contemplating filing objections before the European patent office (EPO) on the issue of grant of patent on Nap-hal as this does not affect farmers right to grow that variety in the country.
Rohtagi also said the experts from various ministries, including agriculture and environment and forest as well as those from the Indian Council for Agricultural Research have held a meeting on the issue and are unanimous that farmers are not even remotely affected by the grant of patent on this wheat variety which is to be used only in Europe.
The has court asked the government to file an affidavit clearly stating its stand before April 2, the next date of hearing. The apex court on February 13 had issued notices to ministries of agriculture, commerce, law, industry and environment on a public interest litigation by the Research Foundation for Science and Technology, alleging the complacent attitude of the government in filing its objection to the patent. The PIL had pointed out that in 1990 Unilever applied for a patent of wheat derived from traditional Nap-hal before the EPO.
In 1998, Unilevers wheat division was acquired by Monsanto and five years later the patent on wheat was granted to Monsanto, it had said.