Short Essay on the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001

The mandate of the TRIPS Agreement in Article 27(3 b) resulted in the passing of this Act. This Act protects genera and species of plant both extant varieties and farmers varieties notified by the Central Government. The criterion of granting protection has been deemed to be novelty, distinctiveness, uniformity and stability.

The Act also gives the Central Government power to exclude any genera or species from protection on the ground of public interest. As the Act does not define ‘Public Interest’ it is opined that this provision gives enormous and unabridged powers to the Government.

Again in the case of ‘benefit sharing’ as required under the CBD, this Act provides that this can happen only if the Central Government notifies this. Considering the level of education and pervasive ignorance, it is highly unlikely that Indian farmers would stake their claim in this regard and avail of this provision.

On the whole it seems to be a half-hearted and piecemeal measure to somehow wriggle out of an international obligation. The sui-generis regime seems to be weak and impaired by implementation problems. The intention seems to be to fulfill India’s obligation without causing any major difference in the ground situation.

Protection of Plant

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Although many have criticised this approach we find that this (Act is vague and on the whole vests large powers with the Central Government. Government can, by using the public interest clause, protect many living species and knowledge form being patented which can be an effective method to bypass some of the ill effects of TRIPS and prevent any conflict with principles of CBD.