We are opposed to the passage of the Patents Bill, although the government claims that several safeguards have been incorporated to allay domestic fears.
There has been no proper discussion and the right approach would have been to refer the issue to the parliamentary Standing Committee. In fact, as a mark of our protest, we staged a walkout when the Bill was passed.
There are a few issues which we felt required lengthy deliberations and instead of adopting a consensus-based approach, the UPA alliance has rushed the Bill, on the pretext that it was required to conform to international obligations.
One of our main concerns was that the provisions of the Bill should be just Trips (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) compliant and not Trips plus, as it appears to be. This legislation has wide ramification and, therefore, we felt that it was critical to undertake thorough scrutiny before passage of the Bill.
For example, the exact parameters of the definition of patentability, the issue of pre-grant opposition to patents and compulsory licensing are some of the issues that needed an exhaustive study.
The current Bill allows for payment of reasonable royalty on products which are in public domain. This might lead to higher prices of essential drugs and medicines, which will affect the common man.
We fail to understand the urgency when the fate of the common man hangs fire. I am surprised that the Left parties have supported this legislation after having vehemently opposed it so long. There are several micro issues which are extremely technical in nature and require to be deliberated at length.
As told to Sebastian PT
The writer is general secretary, BJP