Geographical Indication

The government of Madhya Pradesh has recently failed once again in joining the elite ‘Basmati’ league as the Madras High Court rejected its plea corresponding to seeking the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for basmati rice grown in various areas falling under the state. Moreover, a division bench of Justice C Saravanan and Justice R Subbiah declined to cancel an order taken by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) concerning the grant of GI certificate of basmati to Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

The division bench stated that two GI certificates of registration for the same product or produce couldn’t be issued, which precisely is the only reason for the MP government to approach the court. The judges further mentioned that they were required to observe that the petitioners had a productive and alternative remedy in hand by applying to the registrar of the trademark for canceling or varying the GI certificate issued to APEDA. By having a feeling of been unfairly treated, the government of Madhya Pradesh stated that the GI tag couldn’t be granted to APEDA as a few regions, which produced Basmati in MP, were omitted from the list provided by APEDA. However, the IPAB rejected the claim of MP’s government by observing that the evidence and documents filed by the state showed only the relevance and exclusive characteristics of rice cultivated there and not the cultivation of Basmati in the traditional growing areas. For challenging the rejection order along with the order granting the GI tag to Basmati in favor of APEDA, the government of MP had then decided to appeal in the high court.

In May 2010, the GI tag or status was granted to the Basmati grown only in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, and some parts of Jammu and Kashmir and western Uttar Pradesh. Consequently, Madhya Pradesh had then moved a statutory opposition as it wanted its 13 districts to be recognized as traditional basmati growing areas. The 13 districts of MP that have been excluded from the GI tag include Vidisha, Monera, Bhind, Gwalior, Raisen, Sheopur, Sehore, Jabalpur, Datia, Shivpuri, Hoshangabad, Guna, and Narsinghpur. As per the government of Madhya Pradesh, all these 13 districts in the state have been growing Basmati for a long time now, and they are located in the Indo-Gangetic plains, which have favorable climatic conditions for the cultivation of Basmati. The government believes that the non-inclusion of MP in the Basmati growing areas would indeed harm the entire state and the lives of farmers who primarily depend on the cultivation of Basmati.