ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Legal Meaning of Biodiversity

By suggesting that even coal extraction falls within provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and its specifi c provision of access and benefi t-sharing, the Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Board has raised important questions relating to the interpretation of the law. While the principle of profit sharing from commercial use of biological sources is justifi able, the authors argue that the principle of the conservation ethic should not be lost.

It is in the nature of law to be interpreted. Once a legal statute is in place, administrators face the challenge of relying on their discernment in both understanding and prioritising the law’s provisions. At the same time, there are principles that courts often use along the way to give meaning to a legal text. Such is also the case with India’s Biological Diversity (BD) Act, 2002, where not all of its current interpretations seem to coherently fit into a common understanding of the law. While the executive is challenged with implementing the law, there are instances of judicial interpretations of the law that raise important questions.

One such instance has come to light in Madhya Pradesh (MP) in the context of the BD Act. The MP State Biodiversity Board (MPSBB) has chosen to take a substantially expanded meaning of the words “biological resources” and “commercial utilisation” used in the BD Act.

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