CHENNAI: The Intellectual Properties Appellate Board (IPAB), Chennai, has adjourned to July 8 the hearing on an application filed by a Pakistan-based farmers organisation challenging the grant of geographical indication (GI) tag for Basmati rice to certain Indian areas in the himalayan foothills spread between Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
The Basmati Growers Association from Lahore has challenged the GI tag secured by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (APEDA), an autonomous body under the Commerce Ministry, for the himalayan foothill areas located in India. The GI tag would mean that rice produced in any other areas cannot be marketed as Basmati, as per international trade treaties.
While the appeal was dismissed by Assistant Registrar, GI, on December 31, 2013, it has now filed the appeal in the board at Chennai. In its petition, the BGA contended that Basmati was name for slender, aromatic and long grain variety of rice grown in specific geographical areas in the foothills of Himalayas in Pakistan. These parts of Indo-Gangetic plain are traditional Basmati rice yielding areas.
The organisation referred to Punjab poet Syed Waris Shah’s master piece ‘Heer’ in which he mentions about Basmati grown in Punjab those days, whose areas now fall within the jurisdiction of Pakistan. The petition said Basmati is protected under section 24 (9) of Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
BGA has contended that the GI tag for Indian areas would affect farmers in Pakistan, who are the legitimate cultivators of Basmati traditionally. Shafiullah Khan of Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, had filed the petition on behalf of BGA. When the case came up for hearing in February last week, the IPAB bench comprising the board’s chairman Justice K N Basha adjourned the matter to July 8.