Rasagolla battle in HC

Delay in obtaining geographical indication (GI) tag by Odisha for its rasagolla, even as neighbour Bengal has gone ahead and patented its own brand of the succulent spongy cheese ball, has come under judicial scrutiny.

By LALMOHAN PATNAIK in Cuttack
  • Published 10.05.18
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Cuttack: Delay in obtaining geographical indication (GI) tag by Odisha for its rasagolla, even as neighbour Bengal has gone ahead and patented its own brand of the succulent spongy cheese ball, has come under judicial scrutiny.

Orissa High Court on Wednesday took up a PIL seeking intervention against "inaction" of Odisha in "taking needful steps" for applying and obtaining GI registration for its rasagola in keeping with the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999.

The geographical indication (GI) of goods acts identifies a product as originating from a particular location and conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness that is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin. India, as a member of the World Trade Organisation, enacted the act in 1999 and it came into force in 2003.

Organising secretary of Khurda's Punya Utkal Foundation, Susanta Sahu, has filed the PIL.

"After a preliminary hearing, the division bench of Chief Justice Vineet Saran and Justice B.R. Sarangi posted the matter to after eight weeks for hearing along with replies of the state government," petitioner counsel Sidharth Prasad Das said.

"The court accordingly issued notices to the chief secretary, Odisha government, chief administrator Shree Jagannath Temple Administration to file their replies by then," Das said.

"The court also issued notices returnable within eight weeks to the Assistant Registrar (Trade Mark) of Intellectual Property Office in Chennai and the West Bengal State Council of Science and Technology," he said.

Rasagolla is a spongy ball of chenna dipped in light sugar syrup. In November 2017, Chennai's Intellectual Property Office had reached a conclusion that 'rasogolla" had its geographical origin in Bengal and conferred the GI tag on it as "Banglar Rasogolla".

The PIL has sought quashing of conferring GI status of "Banglar Rasogolla" on the ground that the order is "quite unjust and illogical because the stakeholders of Odisha have been deprived of reasonable opportunity of being heard before passing it".

The petitioner has claimed that "rasagolla is of Odisha and connected with the rich culture of Lord Jagannath".

Official sources said the Odisha government had in July 2016 formed a committee to get GI tag for rasagolla. The committee had submitted a report to stake claim to its origin.

The committee in its report had claimed that references of the sweet were found in the Dandi Ramayan, which is a version of the popular epic that Balaram Das had adapted in the 16th century. Tracing the origin of the sweet, the report also talked about the 600-year-old tradition of rasagolla being offered to gods and goddesses in mutts and temples in Odisha.

Based on the committee's report, the state government had in August 2017 formed an eight-member panel to hasten the process to apply for the GI tag.