Former SC Judges oppose Bill on Biotechnology

Chetan Chauhan

Ahead of the winter session of Parliament, former judges of the Supreme Court have questioned the efficacy of three bills on new regulatory authority for biotechnology sector, unfair practices in higher education and constitution of education tribunals.

The winter session has hectic agenda for MPs as there are over 30 bills listed for introduction or consideration, including six education bills and the biotechnology regulatory authority bill.

Three former judges of the apex court -SP Jeevan Reddy, Kuldeep Singh and MH Kania -have expressed serious concern over the introduction of the biotechnology bill by the ministry of science and technology. They said that the regulatory framework should have experts from other related ministries such as environment, agriculture, health and rural development.

“The primary mandate of any biotechnology bill must be to ensure safety to consumers, farmers and the environment and not to facilitate quick clearances,“ the judges said.

They also found the bill lacking in ensuring that citizens have a right to reject a genetically modified food and that there is no contamination of environment because of GM crops.

In another set of view, former chief justices of India -AS Anand, Madan Mohan Punchhi and KN Singh -have claimed that the government does not have legal competence to set regulatory mechanism for universities as it is a domain of the state legislative bodies.

Their view was sought by the Association of Self Financing Universities on HRD ministry’s Education Tribunal Bill and Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical and Universities Bill.

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