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Drug Patent War, FM Auction, Coal Ordinance Kept Delhi HC Busy in 2015

Published: 02nd January 2016 11:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd January 2016 11:32 AM   |  A+A-

By PTI

NEW DELHI:  The patent war involving domestic and multi-national pharma majors, tussle between the Centre and a private radio channel over FM auctions kept the Delhi High Court busy in 2015 during which it also rapped the Centre for its coal auction ordinance by saying that the legislation "lacked clarity".

The hastily-formulated coal ordinance by the Centre to auction over 200 mines that were deallocated by the Supreme Court in 2014 was criticised on several occasions by the high court which once observed that though the "ordinance was completely in sync with your (govt) economic policy, but your executive decisions are not".

Initially former Congress MP Naveen Jindal's company JSPL had moved the high court challenging Coal Ministry's ordinance on "change of end-use", but later several other iron, steel and power companies, including Bhushan Steel, Jayaswal Neco, Monnet Ispat and GVK power, also joined the issue.

Apart from the coal-based industries, another corporate sector which consumed high court time was the pharma sectors with major drug companies battling over who can be permitted to make medicines for diseases like diabetes and cancer which afflict a large percentage of Indians.

However, these pharma matters hardly proved fruitful for Indian generic drug makers like Cipla and Glenmark, who were stopped by the high court from making cheaper variants of respiratory, diabetes or cancer drugs and antibiotics in which patent was held by some other pharma major like US-based Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) or Swiss firms Novartis and Roche.

In contrast, drug majors like Reckitt Benckiser and J K Ansell were more successful in their fight against Centre's decision to cap condom prices as the high court held that the government's decision putting a ceiling on the cost of the contraceptive was "illegal and unsustainable".

Besides them, Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM, also took much time of the high court which even on its off-days, Saturday and Sunday, heard the company's plea challenging the Centre's decision denying it security clearance to participate in FM auctions due to the radio channel's association with Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV.

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