Court disposes of PepsiCo case against potato growers

Court disposes of PepsiCo case against potato growers


A local court in Banaskantha district on Monday disposed of the civil suit filed against two potato grower brothers by PepsiCo India Holding but the defence lawyer cried foul.

Advocate Anand Yagnik, who has been representing the farmers, said in a note that "PepsiCo has withdrawn the suit on the basis of what has transpired behind the curtain between the PepsiCo and the state of Gujarat in the context of the ongoing parliamentary election as it is reflected from its withdrawal application. Therefore, this withdrawal is not unconditional but appears to be motivated and malicious.

The case was closed after the food and beverage multinational, facing severe criticism for suing farmers for allegedly growing a variety of potato for which the company claims it has plant variety protection rights, filed a note in the court for withdrawal of the case. The court disposed of the case.
In the one-page note, which the company submitted before the Deesa taluka court in Banaskantha district, it was stated, "The Plaintiff wishes to withdraw the captioned matter relying on its discussions with the government to find a long term and an amicable solution of issues around its seed protection. In view of the same, this Court may be pleased to pass an order to allow the Plaintiff to withdraw the captioned matter."
Farmers not protected

Advocate Yagnik, in his note said, "Farmers of Gujarat, I say as a lawyer, must not feel protected and above any further pernicious prosecution and litigation. Unless Govt of Gujarat makes it clear in writing about what transpired between them and PepsiCo and gives assurance that it shall not allow multinational companies to litigate against its own farmers, the future may not be very bright for the farmers..."

PepsiCo India holding had filed a commercial civil suit against farmers Fulchandbhai and Sureshbhai Kachchhawa and had sought permanent injunction to restrain "infringement of plant variety registered under the provisions of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001. The company had got orders from courts to appoint a court commissioner to "take stock and inventorize the infringing products." There are at least nine more potato growers who have been sued by the company.