Baba Ramdev’s firm ordered to share its profit with locals in Uttarakhand
The Uttarakhand High Court has directed a company run by Yoga guru Ramdev to share a percentage of its profits with local farmers and communities.
The high court gave the order while rejecting a petition of Divya Pharmacy against the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) and upholding the provisions of fair and equitable benefit-sharing (FEBS) as provided under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The bench of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia held that it was a fact that biological resources constitute the main ingredient and raw materials in the manufacture of ayurvedic and nutraceutical products. It ordered the pharmacy to share its profit with the farmers of the raw product.
The landmark judgment reserved on September 7, 2018 was delivered on December 21, but its copy was made available on Thursday.
Previously the UBB had directed the pharmacy to share the amount with the farmers and local communities out of its profit as per the Biological Diversity Act. The pharmacy had claimed that the UBB neither had the powers nor jurisdiction to pass such an order and it was not liable to pay or make any kind of contribution.
The court held that India was a party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the country was under an obligation to give effect to the provisions of the treaty.
The court said the UBB was within rights to pass the order demanding the amount, as the biological resources were not only a national property, but also belong to the communities which produce these.
Divya Pharmacy’s entire argument, according to HC, rested on a textual and legalistic interpretation, particularly of the term FEBS.
“In the first blush it seems only obvious that the law here does not subject an Indian entity to FEBS. But what seems obvious, may not always be correct....Section 2 of the Act, which defines various expressions in the Act opens with some important words, which are, “unless the context otherwise requires”. Meaning thereby that it is not mandatory that one should always mechanically attribute an expression as assigned in the definition clause”, the order said.
HC said a simple textual interpretation by petitioner shows that the Divya Pharmacy which is not a foreign entity is not liable to contribute to FEBS. “But then a plain and textual interpretation here defeats the very purpose, for which the law was enacted,” the order said.
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