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HC rejects seed traders plea against slashing of BT seed price

HC rejects seed traders plea against slashing of BT seed price

In a major victory for Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court upheld its decision to reduce price of BT cotton seed bag by Rs 100 and refused to grant any interim relief to Seed Industries Association of Maharashtra which had moved court against the price slashing.

A division bench consisting of justices Bhushan Gavai and Indira Jain here yesterday turned down the plea of petitioner-association representing major seed manufacturing companies and held that government was well within its power to regulate the price of BT cotton seeds on the basis of empirical data before it.
The state government on June 8 exercising its power under section 10 of the Maharashtra Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price ) Act, 2009, fixed the maximum sale price of BG-I at Rs 730 per packet and BG-II Cotton seeds at Rs 830 per packet.

Senior Counsel Sunil Manohar appearing for the state strongly defended the move citing various decisions and prevailing agrarian crisis, particularly in cotton belt of Maharashtra.

After major shift from traditional seeds to BT seeds, it is imperative for the state to protect the interest of agriculturists and cotton growers and provide them seeds at a reasonable price.

Refuting the allegation of petitioner-association that the government considered only Keshav Kranti report while ignoring Dr C D Mayee report which had suggested rationalisation of prices, the counsel stated that decision was taken after reviewing crop situation across Maharashtra and after series of deliberations conducted with stakeholders including end-consumer.

Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi who appeared for the Seed Manufacturers questioned the logic and legality of slashing of price and put forth demand of industry to direct the state government to hike the maximum sale price of BG-I and BG-II cotton seeds.

The petitioner sought direction to the respondent authorities to fix the price of BT cotton hybrid seeds based on increase in the costs of production /factors specified under section 10(1) of the 2009 Act and stay to the impugned notification.

The petitioners contended that the impugned notification was in violation of section 10 of the Act. Besides, it is contrary to the principles of price fixation and also the view expressed by the High Court through its judgment of three other writ petitions of August 13, 2013.

During last hearing, the High Court had directed the authorities to keep their original files ready for its perusal.

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