FUNCTION AND POWERS OF NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY AUTHORITY(NBA)

Dec 15, 2020

During the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, a treaty, Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD), to save and develop the biodiversity of each country, was entered into and India was a signatory to this treaty. Being a signatory to this treaty, India has enacted in the year 2002 the Biological Diversity Act. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, is implemented through a three-tier system. The top agency in executing the act is the NBA which operates at the national level. The NBA has its headquarter in Chennai. The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was established in 2003 to implement the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. NBA is a statutory, autonomous body, and it performs facilitative, regulatory and advisory functions. NBA advises the Central Government on issues regarding the conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources. The Central Government established the NBA under section 8 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. It started functioning from 1st October 2003.


Section 8 of the said Act of 2002 lays down the power of the Central Government to establish a body to be called the National Biodiversity Authority by notification in the Official Gazette. The National Biodiversity Authority shall be a body corporate by the name aforesaid, having perpetual succession and a common seal, with power to acquire, hold and dispose of property, both movable and immovable, and to contract, and shall by the said name sue and be sued. It shall consist of a Chairperson who shall be an eminent person having adequate knowledge and experience in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and matters relating to equitable sharing of benefits. The Central Government shall appoint him. Other members will be three ex officio members, one representing the Ministry dealing with Tribal Affairs and two representing the Ministry dealing with Environment and Forests of whom one shall be the Additional Director General of Forests or the Director-General of Forests. Seven ex officio members to be appointed by the Central Government to represent respectively the Ministries of the Central Government dealing with - The Biological Diversity Act & Rules 9 (i) Agricultural Research and Education; (ii) Biotechnology; (iii) Ocean Development; (iv) Agriculture and Cooperation; (v) Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy; (vi) Science and Technology; (vii) Scientific and Industrial Research. Five non-official members to be appointed from amongst specialists and scientists having special knowledge of, or experience in, matters relating to conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of biological resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources, representatives of industry, conservers, creators and knowledge-holders of biological resources.


Chapter IV of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, states the powers and functions of the National Biodiversity Authority. Section 18(1) of the said Act states that It shall be the duty of the National Biodiversity Authority to regulate activities referred to in sections 3, 4 and 6 and by regulations issue guidelines for access to biological resources and fair and equitable benefit sharing. Under sub-section (2) the NBA may approve undertaking any activity referred to in sections 3, 4 and 6 of the  Act. The National Biodiversity Authority also has the function under sub-section (3) of advising the Central Government on matters relating to the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of biological resources. The NBA can advise the State Governments in the selection of areas of biodiversity importance to be notified under sub-section (1) of section 37 as heritage sites and measures for the management of such heritage sites. It can perform such other functions as are necessary to implement the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. The National Biodiversity Authority also, may, on behalf of the Central Government, take any measures necessary to oppose the grant of intellectual property rights in any country outside India on any biological resource obtained from India or knowledge associated with such biological resource which is derived from India.


Chapter V deals with the power of approval of the National Biodiversity Authority. Section 19(1) lays down that Any person referred to in section 3(2) who intends to obtain any biological resource occurring in India or knowledge associated to it for research or commercial utilization or bio-survey and bio-utilization or transfer the results of any research relating to biological resources occurring in, or obtained from, India, or Any person who intends to apply for a patent or any other form of intellectual property protection whether in India or outside India referred to in subsection (1) of section 6, shall make an application in such form and payment of such fees as may be prescribed, to the National Biodiversity Authority. After receiving any such application, the NBA after making enquiries and if necessary, consulting any expert committee, grant or refuse approval as it thinks fit. If the application is rejected, the reasons for such rejection must be recorded in writing. The NBA must give public notice of the approvals granted by it.


Section 20 of the said Act states that no person who has been approved under section 19 shall transfer any biological resource or knowledge associated to it which is the subject matter of the said approval except with the permission of the National Biodiversity Authority. No person who has been approved under section 19 shall transfer any biological resource or knowledge associated to it which is the subject matter of the said approval except with the permission of the National Biodiversity Authority. After receiving any such application, the NBA after making enquiries as it deems fit and after consulting any expert committee may approve subject to such terms and conditions as it deems fit or rejects the application after recording the reasons in writing. The NBA must give public notice of every such approval.

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