THE PROTECTION OF PLANT VARIETIES AND FARMERS RIGHTS ACT, 2001
[Act No. 53 of 2001]
[30th October, 2001]
An Act to provide for the establishment of an effective system for protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants.
WHEREAS it is considered necessary to recognise and protect the rights of the farmers in respect of their contribution made at any time in conserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources for the development of new plant varieties;
AND WHEREAS for accelerated agricultural development in the country, it is necessary to protect plant breeders' rights to stimulate investment for research and development, both in the public and private sector, for the development of new plant varieties;
AND WHEREAS such protection will facilitate the growth of the seed industry in the country which will ensure the availability of high quality seeds and planting material to the farmers;
AND WHEREAS, to give effect to the aforesaid objectives, it is necessary to undertake measures for the protection of the rights of farmers and plant breeders;
AND WHEREAS India, having ratified the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights should, inter alia, make provision for giving effect to sub-paragraph (b) of paragraph 3 of article 27 in Part II of the said Agreement relating to protection of plant varieties.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Fifty-second Year of the Republic of India as follows:--
Section 1. Short title, extent and commencement
(1) This Act may be called the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act, 2001.
(2) It extends to the whole of India.
(3) It shall come into force on such dale as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint; and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act and any reference in any such provision to the commencement of this Act shall be construed as a reference to the coming into force of that provision.
Section 2. Definitions
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,--
(a) "Authority" means the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority established under sub-section (1) of section 3;
(b) "benefit sharing", in relation to a variety, means such proportion of the benefit accruing to a breeder of such variety or such proportion of the benefit accruing to the breeder from an agent or a licensee of such variety, as the case may be, for which a claimant shall be entitled as determined by the Authority under section 26;
(c) "breeder" means a person or group of persons or a farmer or group of farmers or any institution which has bred, evolved or developed any variety;
(d) "Chairman" means the Chairman of the Tribunal;
(e) "Chairperson" means the Chairperson of the Authority appointed under clause (a) of sub-section (5) of section 3,
(f) "convention country" means a country which has acceded to an international convention for the protection of plant varieties to which India has also acceded, or a country which has a law on protection of plant varieties on the basis of which India has entered into an agreement for granting plant breeders' right to the citizens of both the countries;
(g) "denomination", in relation to a variety or its propagating material or essentially derived variety or its propagating material, means the denomination of such variety or its propagating material or essentially derived variety or its propagating material, as the case may be. expressed by means of letters or a combination of letters and figures written in any language;
(h) "essential characteristics" means such heritable traits of a plant variety which are determined by the expression of one or more genes of other heritable determinants that contribute to the principal features, performance or value of the plant variety;
(i) "essentially derived variety", hi respect of a variety (the initial variety), shall be said to be essentially derived from such initial variety when it--
(i) is predominantly derived from such initial variety, or from a variety that itself is predominantly derived from such initial variety, while retaining the expression of the essential characteristics that result from the genotype or combination of genotypes of such initial variety;
(ii) is clearly distinguishable from such initial variety; and
(iii) conforms (except for the differences which result from the act of derivation) to such initial variety in the expression of the essential characteristics that result from the genotype or combination of genotype of such initial variety;
(j) "extant variety" means a variety available in India which is
(i) notified under section 5 of the Seeds Act, 1966 (54 of 1966); or
(ii) farmers' variety; or
(iii) a variety about which there is common knowledge; or
(iv) any other variety which is in public domain;
(k) "farmer" means any person who--
(i) cultivates crops by cultivating the land himself; or
(ii) cultivates crops by directly supervising the cultivation of land through any other person; or
(iii) conserves and preserves, severally or jointly, with any other person any wild species or traditional varieties or adds value to such wild species or traditional varieties through selection and identification of their useful properties;
(l) "farmers' variety" means a variety which--
(i) has been traditionally cultivated and evolved by the farmers in their fields, or .
(ii) is a wild relative or land race of a variety about which the farmers possess the common knowledge;
(m) "Gene Fund" means the National Gene Fund constituted under sub-section (1) of section 45;
(n) "Judicial Member" means a Member of the Tribunal appointed as such under sub-section (V) of section 55 and includes the Chairman;
(o) "Member" means a Judicial Member or a Technical Member of the Tribunal and includes the Chairman;
(p) "member" means a member of the Authority appointed under clause (b) of sub-section (5) of section 3 and includes the member-secretary;
(q) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
(r) "propagating material" means any plant or its component or part thereof including an intended seed or seed which is capable of, or suitable for, regeneration into a plant;
(s) "Register" means the National Register of Plant Varieties referred to in section 13;
(t) "Registrar" means a Registrar of Plant Varieties appointed under sub-section (4) of section 12 and includes the Registrar-General;
(u) "Registrar-General" means the Registrar-General of Plant Varieties appointed under sub-section (5) of section 12;
(v) "Registry" means the Plant Varieties Registry referred to in sub-section (1) of section 12;
(w) "regulations" means the regulations made by the Authority under this Act;
(x) "seed" means a type of living embryo or propagule capable of regeneration and giving rise to a plant which is true to such type;
(y) "Tribunal" means the Plant Varieties Protection Appellate Tribunal established under section 54;
(z) 'Technical Member" means a Member of the Tribunal who is not a Judicial Member;
(za) "variety" means a plant grouping except micro organism within a single botanical tax on of the lowest known rank, which can be--
(i) defined by the expression of the characteristics resulting from a given genotype of that plant grouping;
(ii) distinguished from any other plant grouping by expression of at least one of the said characteristics; and
(iii) considered as a unit with regard to its suitability for being propagated, which remains unchanged after such propagation,
and includes propagating material of such variety, extant variety, transgenic variety, farmars' variety and essentially derived variety.
Section 3. Establishment of Authority
(1) The Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, establish an Authority to be known as the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority for the purposes of this Act.
(2) The Authority shall be a body corporate by the name aforesaid, having perpetual succession and a common seal with power to acquire, hold and dispose of properties, both movable and immovable, and to contract, and shall by the said name sue and be sued.
(3) The head office of the Authority shall be at such place as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify and the Authority may, with the previous approval of the Central Government, establish branch offices at other places in India.
(4) The Authority shall consist of a Chairperson and fifteen members.
(5) (a) The Chairperson, to be appointed by the Central Government, shall be a person of outstanding calibre and eminence, with long practical experience to the satisfaction of that Government especially in the field of plant varietal research or agricultural development,
(b) The members of the Authority, to be appointed by the Central Government, shall be as follows, namely:--
(i) the Agriculture Commissioner, Government of India, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, New Delhi, ex officio;
(ii) the Deputy Director General incharge of Crop Sciences, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, ex officio;
(iii) the Joint Secretary incharge of Seeds, Government of India, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, New Delhi, ex officio;
(iv) the Horticulture Commissioner, Government of India, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, New Delhi, ex officio:
(v) the Director, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, ex officio;
(vi) one member not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India to represent the Department of Bio-technology, Government of India, ex officio;
(vii) one member not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India to represent the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, ex officio;
(viii) one member not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India to represent the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, Government of India, ex officio;
(ix) one representative from a National or State level farmers' organisation to be nominated by the Central Government:
(x) one representative from a tribal organisation to be nominated by the Central Government;
(xi) one representative from the seed industry to be nominated by the Central Government,
(xii) one representative from an agricultural University to be nominated by the Central Government;
(xiii) one representative from a National or State level women's organisation associated with agricultural activities to be nominated by the Central Government; and
(xiv) two representatives of State Governments on rotation basis to be nominated by the Central Government.
(c) The Registrar-General shall be the ex officio member-secretary of the Authority.
(6) The term of office of the Chairperson and the manner of filling the post shall be such as may be prescribed.
(7) The Chairperson shall appoint a Standing Committee consisting of five members, one of whom shall be a member who is a representative from a fanners' organisation, to advise the Authority on all issues including farmers' rights.
(8) The Chairperson shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such conditions of service in respect of leave, pension, provident fund and other matters as may be prescribed. The allowances for non-official members for attending the meetings of the Authority shall be such as may be prescribed.
(9) The Chairperson may resign his office by giving notice thereof in writing to the Central Government and on such resignation being accepted, he shall be deemed to have vacated his office.
(10) On the resignation of the Chairperson or on the vacation of the office of the Chairperson for any reason, the Central Government may appoint one of the members to officiate as Chairperson till a regular Chairperson is appointed in accordance with clause (a) of sub-section (5).
Section 4. Meetings of Authority
(1) The Authority shall meet at such time and place and shall observe such rules of procedure in regard to the transaction of business at its meetings [including the quorum at its meetings and the transaction of business of its Standing Committee appointed under subsection (7) of section 3] as may be prescribed.
(2) The Chairperson of the Authority shall preside at the meetings of the Authority.
(3) If, for any reason the Chairperson is unable to attend any meeting of the Authority, any member of the Authority chosen by the members present shall preside at the meeting.
(4) All questions which come before any meeting of the Authority shall be decided by a majority of the votes of the members of the Authority present and voting and in the event of equality of votes, the Chairperson of the Authority or in his absence, the person presiding shall have and exercise a second or casting vote.
(5) Every member who is in any way, whether directly, indirectly or personally, concerned or interested in a matter to be decided at the meeting shall disclose the nature of his concern or interest and after such disclosure, the member, concerned or interested, shall not attend that meeting.
(6) No act or proceeding of the Authority shall be invalid merely by reason of--
(a) any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the Authority; or
(b) any defect in the appointment of a person acting as the Chairperson or a member of the Authority; or
(c) any irregularity in the procedure of the Authority not affecting the merits of the case.
Section 5. Committees of Authority
(1) The Authority may appoint such committees as may be necessary for the efficient discharge of its duties and performance of its functions under this Act.
(2) The persons appointed as members of the committee under sub-section (1) shall be entitled to receive such allowances or fees for attending the meetings of the committee as may be fixed by the Central Government.
Section 6. Officers and other employees of Authority
Subject to such control and restriction as may be prescribed, the Authority may appoint such officers and other employees as may he necessary for the efficient performance of its functions and the method of appointment, the salary and allowances and other conditions of service of such other officers and employees of the Authority shall be such as may be prescribed.
Section 7. Chairperson of be Chief Executive
The Chairperson shall be the Chief Executive of the Authority and shall exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be prescribed.
Section 8. General functions of Authority
(1) It shall be the duty of the Authority to promote, by such measures as it thinks fit, the encouragement for the development of new varieties of plants and to protect the rights of the farmers and breeders.
( 2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the measures referred to in sub-section (1) may provide for--
(a) the registration of extant varieties subject to such terms and conditions and in the manner as may be prescribed;
(b) developing characterisation and documentation of varieties registered under this Act;
(c) documentation, indexing and cataloguing of farmers' varieties;
(d) compulsory cataloguing facilities for all varieties of plants;
(e) ensuring that seeds of the varieties registered under this Act are available to the farmers and providing for compulsory licensing of such varieties if the breeder of such varieties or any other person entitled to produce such variety under this Act does not arrange for production and sale of the seed in the manner as may be prescribed;
(f) collecting statistics with regard to plant varieties, including the contribution of any person at any time in the evolution or development of any plant variety, in India or in any other country, for compilation and publication;
(g) ensuring the maintenance of the Register.
Section 9. Authentication of orders, etc., of Authority
All orders and decisions of the Authority shall be authenticated by the signature of the Chairperson or any other member authorised by the Authority in this behalf.
Section 10. Delegation
The Authority may, by general or special order in writing, delegate to the Chairperson, any member or officer of the Authority subject to such conditions or limitations, if any, as may be specified in the order, such of its powers and functions (except the power to make regulations under section 95) under this Act as it may deem necessary.
Section 11. Power of Authority
In all proceedings under this Act before the Authority or the Registrar,--
(a) the Authority or the Registrar, as the case may be, shall have all the powers of a civil court for the purposes of receiving evidence, administering oaths, enforcing the attendance of witnesses, compelling the discovery and production of documents and issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses;
(b) the Authority or the Registrar may, subject to any rule made in this behalf under this Act, make such orders as to costs as it considers reasonable and any such order shall be executable as a decree of a civil court.
Section 12. Registry and offices thereof
(1) The Central Government shall establish, for the purposes of this Act, a Registry which shall be known as the Plant Varieties Registry.
(2) The head office of the Plant Varieties Registry shall be located in the head office of the Authority, and for the purpose of facilitating the registration of varieties, there may be established, at such places, as the Authority may think fit, branch offices of the Registry.
(3) The Authority shall appoint a Registrar-General of Plant Varieties who shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such conditions of service in respect of leave, pension, provident fund and such other matters as may be prescribed.
(4) The Authority may appoint such number of Registrars as it thinks necessary for registration of plant varieties under the superintendence and direction of the Registrar-General under this Act and may make regulations with respect to their duties and jurisdiction.
(5) The term of office and the conditions of service of the Registrars shall be such as may be provided by regulations.
(6) The Authority may, by notification in the Official Gazette, define the territorial limits within which a branch office of the Registry may exercise its functions.
(7) There shall he a seal of the Plant Varieties Registry.