High Court rejects plea of seed manufacturers
- Fri, 2015-06-19 (All day)
- Maharashtra, India
The seed manufacturers lobby suffered a setback on the legal front when the High Court rejected its plea against a decision by the State Government to reduce the prices of Bt cotton seeds. The prices of these genetically modified seeds are regulated by State Governments in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
In Maharashtra, the seed makers had approached the State Government seeking an increase of Rs. 200 in the rates but the Government ordered a reduction instead. Maharashtra reduced the rates by Rs. 100 for a pack of 450 gram seeds, and brought it down to Rs. 830 earlier in June, 2015. This move annoyed the seed-makers and they filed a petition in the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court.
The Seed Industries Association of Maharashtra had pitched high profile lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi in this case. The seed makers contended that their operations could face closure due to the price reduction.
However, a Divisional Bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indira Jain rejected the petition during the third hearing in the matter. The Court observed that despite several notices being issued, the manufacturers did not submit the data regarding their production costs to the State Government.
The move to bring down the rates was initiated by the previous Government itself but could not be implemented as the election code of conduct came into force. The Court observed that the Government had the power to reduce the prices and it was also necessary, given the hard times being faced by farmers.
Meanwhile, Satish Kagliwal, who heads the state's Seed Manufacturers Guild, said that it was too early to decide the future course of action and that a collective decision would have to be taken by the members of the guild.
Sources in the industry said that Bt cotton seeds were now available at the lowest rates in Maharashtra. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the State Governments had kept the rates at the previous level of Rs. 930 per bag. Even in other cotton growing states like Gujarat and Karnataka, the seeds were being sold at the same price. However, it cost Rs. 1,000 per bag in Punjab and Haryana due to the free trade regime.
A senior management representative of a seed company said that the manufacturers in Maharashtra would now depend on the business in other states, where the prices were still at the previous level.