SC will hear PIL against GM mustard if govt allows roll-out

RSTV Bureau

File Photo of Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi.

The Supreme Court on Monday made clear that it would hear a plea challenging the commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop in the country if the government takes a decision in favour of the roll out.

The court’s observation came from a bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud when Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, said that the government would be taking a policy decision on commercial roll out within a month or a month- and-a-half.

“We will post the matter in the second week of September.

If your decision is to allow the roll out, then we will hear it,” the bench said and asked the ASG when the mustard sowing season begins.

“The sowing begins in October,” the law officer replied.

The bench then said if the government approves the roll out then then it will hear the plea against the GM mustard seeds before the sowing season begins.

Earlier, the apex court had asked the Centre to take a “considered” and “well-informed” view before taking a policy decision on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop.

The apex court had on October 17 last year extended the stay on the commercial release of GM mustard crop till further orders.

It had asked the government to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing it for cultivation purposes.

Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, alleged that field trials were being carried out without the relevant tests and sought a 10-year moratorium on them.

A Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report had also said that the entire regulatory system was in “shambles” and a 10- year moratorium should be given, Bhushan had argued.

Rodrigues had filed the plea seeking a stay on the commercial release of GM mustard and prohibition of its open field trials.

He had also urged the court to prohibit open field trials and commercial release of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crops, including HT Mustard DMH 11 and its parent lines/variants as recommended by the TEC in its report.

The petitioner alleged that contamination caused by mustard HT DMH 11 and its HT parents would be “irremediable and irreversible”.

(With inputs from PTI)