A Bill to amend the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 has been proposed in the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of the Indian Parliament.
The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (‘Bill’), once enacted and notified, will facilitate fast-tracking of research, patent application process, transfer of research results while utilising the biological resources available in India without compromising the objectives of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and its Nagoya Protocol.
According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Bill, the revised provisions will encourage Indian system of medicine and reduce the pressure on wild medicinal plants by encouraging their cultivation. The Bill also seeks to decriminalise certain provisions while also bring more foreign investments without compromising the national interest.
Broadly, Sections 18 and 19 of the Biological Diversity Act are being amended to empower the National Biodiversity Authority to make certain regulations. Similarly, Sections 62 and 63 are being amended to empower the Central Government and the State Governments to make certain Rules. Further, among many other changes, definition of ‘benefit claimers’ is being restricted while definition of ‘biological resources’ will include ‘derivatives’ instead of by-products. ‘India’ has also been defined now for the purpose of the Biological Diversity Act.
The changes proposed in the Bill exempt Ayush practitioners from the ambit of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, and will facilitate access to biological resources and traditional knowledge by the Indian traditional medicine sector. The Bill also provides that certain categories of applicants must obtain NBA’s approval before the grant of Intellectual Property Rights. At present the approval is allowed before applying for IPR, except patents where permission is to be obtained before sealing of the patent.