The Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) has termed the proposed amendments in the Indian Patent Act 1970 as anti-people. Staging a dharna on Parliament Street in New Delhi on December 10, the Manch said that the government was amending the law to incorporate the dictates of WTO and various multinational companies.
Addressing the protestors, Shri George Fernandes, former Defence Minister, said that the harms caused by the economic polices introduced by the then Finance Minister and present Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh in 1991 were showing their true colour now. He said a number of organisations had then opposed those new policies, but the government ignored the opposition and implemented the policies.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri P. Muralidhar Rao, SJM convenor, said that the SJM strongly believed that the proposed amendments were aimed at switching to product- patent regime from the present process-patent regime, stripping the government of its power of licence and virtually eliminating the possibility of compulsory licence for the benefit of people and significantly enhancing royalty to patent holders. ?This would lead to manifold increase in the prices of medicines, making them unaffordable and would amount to infringement of the right to life, which is a fundamental right of citizens as provided by the Constitution. The proposed Patent (Amendment) Bill is also anti-farmers as it is likely to affect indigenous agricultural research and will deprive the farmers of their natural rights,? he said. He added the SJM believed that there was no reason to introduce such a comprehensive Amendment Bill, even if the Patent Act was to be made WTO-compatible. Apart from these, there are a number of objectionable provisions in the Patent Amendment Bill.
He said the government had failed to incorporate the objections of the affected parties and experts in the field and the public at large. ?As such, the proposed Bill is anti-people, anti-farmers, anti-employment and amounts to surrendering of sovereignty. The SJM believes that while bringing about the proposed Patent Amendment Bill, the government has either not studied or deliberately ignored the safeguard measures adopted by different countries and as provided in the TRIPS agreement. These measure include the scope of patentability, definition of patentable inventions, control on abuse of monopoly power and grant of compulsory licence to safeguard national interest. Gains made by the nation at Doha WTO meet on security of public health are also being jeopardised by this act of the government. On the one hand, the government has failed to incorporate the measures that safeguard national interest, on the other hand, it is trying to push the Bill on the pretext of meeting the deadline of amending Patent Act before January 1, 2005. SJM also wishes to warn the government, the alliance partners of the government and the parties supporting it from outside, not to indulge in politicising the issue. The SJM also expresses its unhappiness over the efforts of those in power to circumvent Parliament and bring an ordinance instead of initiating a debate on the Bill in Parliament, as appears from a section of the press,? Shri Rao said.