Overview of the Bio-Diversity Act, 2002
Healthy biological diversity is declared a fundamental right of citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Healthy bio-diversity indicates the peaceful coexistence of all organisms in a pollution-free environment. But this has been disrupted due to the introduction of industrialisation, the shift of population from rural to urban areas, and overpopulation. Thus, Bio-Diversity Act 2002 came into the picture.
Before enacting the Biological Diversity Act 2002, India participated in many international initiatives to save biodiversity. The list of initiatives includes the Cartagena Protocol for Biosafety to BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY (2000), the CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna)of 1975, the World Heritage Convention (1972), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (1975), International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (FAO 2001), UN Convention to Combat Desertification (1994), the Bonn Guidelines of 2002 on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of the advantages arising out of their utilisation, FAO’s International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (1983), Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (WTO-1994) 1994 and Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (2002).
Besides, India also has signed Convention on Biological Diversity in Rio de Janeiro to protect its biodiversity. The main objective was to provide a framework and introduce a system of sustainable development. After agreeing to the implementation of this convention correctly and addressing the urgent need for proper legislation relating to the protection and regulation of biodiversity in India, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC)implemented the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The Salient features of the Bio-diversity Act, 2002
The Bio-Diversity Act2002 was implemented to address the issues linked to the right to use genetic resources and related knowledge by foreign nationals, institutions or companies. The other objective mentioned the allocation of benefits arising from using these resources and associated knowledge by the country and its people. Some of the other essential features of the Bio-Diversity Act 2002 are: -
- The act conserves and promotes sustainable usage of biological diversity.
- The Biological Diversity Act mandates the setting up of the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs), National Biodiversity Authority (NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY AUTHORITY (NBA)) and State Biodiversity Board (SBB)
- The Act also prescribes National Biodiversity Authority and State Biodiversity Boardconsult Biodiversity Management Committees in resolutions relating to bioresources.
- To respect and protect indigenous communities' traditional information related to biodiversity.
- To protect the distribution of profits with local folks as conservers of biological resources and holders of information and knowledge.
- Under the Biological Diversity Act, all foreign organisations require authorisation from the National Biodiversity Authority to obtain biological resources and associated knowledge.
- Indian individuals and scientists need the National Biodiversity Authority's support for transferring research results to foreign organisations or nationals.
- Development and conservation of regions of importance from the perspective of biological diversity by pronouncing them as biological diversity heritage sites.
- Rehabilitation and protection of threatened species.
- Participation of state government departments in the comprehensive scheme of executing the Biological Diversity Act through the composition of committees.
- Under the Bio-Diversity Act 2002, Indian business needs prior suggestion from the state Biodiversity Board to obtain bioresource. State Biodiversity Board has the right to confine if found to encroach upon preservation, sustainable use and profit sharing.
- Guidelines for reporting heritage sites by the state government in discussion with the local body.
- Prior consent is needed from National Biodiversity Authority for Intellectual Property Rights in India or outside India on Bioresource.
Duties of the central and state governments
Under the Bio-Diversity Act 2002, chapter IX defines the duties of the central and state governments. These duties are: -
- According to the act, the central government has to formulate policies and strategies for the preservation and environmentally sustainable usage of biodiversity.
- The state government must also declare any unique biological diversity as a heritage site for its protection.
- The central government is responsible for notifying any species as threatened or endangered.
- The central government also have the power to designate repositories.
- They also have the power to excuse Normally Traded Commodities.
Duties of National and State Biodiversity Authorities
- According to the Bio-Diversity Act, 20202, the National and State Biodiversity Authorities must ensure that no person can claim a patent over bio-diversity without getting approval from the Indian government.
- They must advise central and state governments on biodiversity conservation, benefit sharing and sustainable usage of resources.
- National Biodiversity Authorities also have to regulate activities by sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Biological Diversity Act.
- According to Section 3, certain persons are not allowed to take on Biodiversity-related activities without the consent of the NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY AUTHORITY (NBA).
- According to Section 4, the research results are not to be shifted to particular persons minus the agreement of the NBA.
- According to Section 6, an application for Intellectual Property Rights is not to be prepared without the endorsement of the NBA (Section 6).
Withdrawal of application
Under the Biological Diversity Act 2002, in any case, if the applicant desires to withdraw any application made before the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), then the applicant may make an unrestricted request for the same. Such an appeal is checked by the NBA only when the authority believes that no contrary implication on the extraction of such an application is secure. All needs for the conclusion of an application are inspected and reflected upon by the expert committee, who, after conversation and discussion, may:
- endorse closure of the request;
- pursue additional details for the applicant’s withdrawal and re-examine them;
- endorseaquery by designated persons or via the State Biodiversity Authority or any appropriate agency in case of non-response or on suspicion of misuse/defilement of the Biological Diversity Act provisions, or
- endorse any other accomplishment. Based on the references of the expert committee, the NBA may contemplate the closure of the application.
Once the submission is closed after the conclusion of all official procedures, a termination or closure letter is directed to the applicant. A duplicate of the same is submitted to the respective SBA (State Biodiversity Authority) or other pertinent agencies. It is also linked to the applicant/legal counsel's respective attorney. This step finishes the process of closure. Once a request has been terminated or closed, the applicant cannot revive the same appeal but can apply again by reimbursing the agreed fee and satisfying the necessary compliance as provided in the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The penalty or offence section allocated under chapter XII is responsible for implementing joint arrangements with a penalty, company offences, appeals, cognisance of offences etc. In particular, Section 58 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 mandates that the crimes shall be non-bailable and cognisable. Any person distressed by any provisions of benefit sharing or instruction of the NBA under this Act may report an appeal to the High Court. The time permissible to prefer an appeal is thirty days from the announcement date to the aggrieved individual of the order of the NBA.
Suppose any person breaches any direction order made or given by the Central Government, the State Government, NBAor SBA (the State Biodiversity Board) for which no penalty has been independently provided under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. In that case, the person shall be penalised with a fine of one lakh rupees. In case of the following offence, the fine may extend to two lakh rupees, and in case of continuous infringement with additional fine may extend to two lakh rupees daily.
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