Bt Cotton: Telangana Challenges Stay on Monsanto Royalty GO
HYDERABAD: The Telangana government has approached the division bench of the Hyderabad High Court with an appeal for vacation of the stay granted by a single judge on the GO issued by it with regard to fixing Rs 50 as royalty per packet of Bt cotton seeds.
On November 12 this year, the single judge granted stay on the GO while dealing with a petition filed by Mahico Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt Ltd.
When the appeal came up for hearing on Wednesday, senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for the state government, placed his arguments before the bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale and Justice SV Bhatt.
Vaidyanathan complained that companies like Monsanto and its Indian associates like Mahico had been exploiting the impoverished farmers in Telangana state with their exorbitant cotton seed prices. The government’s efforts to rein in such unscrupulous market players were unduly thwarted by a single judge by staying the operation of the impugned GO. It was the responsibility of the state government to protect the interests of the farmers by controlling the monopoly of the company in fixing the selling price of Bt Cotton seeds and it made the Andhra Pradesh Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price) Act, 2007 to regulate the sale price of the seeds, he said.
The senior counsel urged the court to allow the state’s machinery to come to the rescue of distressed cotton farmers who are resorting to commit suicides due to heavy input costs, etc. While Monsanto is charging Rs 23 as royalty on a pack of Bt cotton seeds, its Indian partner Mahico, along with several seed manufacturers with whom it had entered into agreements, has been collecting Rs 1,250 as royalty per pack by fleecing the farmers, he pointed out.
On the other hand, senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Monsanto, pointed out that the state government had filed the appeal now though the GO had been stayed three months ago.
“The government is shedding crocodile tears for farmers. In fact, farmers are nowhere in the picture.”
“The government has no power to fix the royalty and the agriculture department had acted beyond its jurisdiction and issued the GO by fixing the royalty,” he contended.
“Our royalty charge is not more than `100 per pack and not `1,000 or more as is being alleged. Some seed manufacturers have filed writ petitions against Monsanto in the Mumbai and Hyderabad High Courts and all of them are pending,” he pointed out.
While posting the matter to December 23 for further hearing, the bench directed both the parties to file written submissions.