The grant of a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the Tirupati Laddu (an Indian sweet) in favour of the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) has been in controversy ever since the time of its registration. An Indian resident filed a rectification petition against the registration of ‘Tirupati Laddu’. The petition was recently dismissed by the Geographical Indication Registry along with the imposition of costs upto INR 10,000 (approximately USD 200).
The issue in question was whether the grant of a GI tag to a single producer is allowed under Section 11(1) of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 2002 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The petitioner alleged that grant of registration to TTD (which is the sole producer and beneficiary of manufacturing the laddu) would be ultra vires Section 11(1) of the Act.
The Registrar while reading Section 11(1) of the Act in consonance with Section 13(2) of the General Clauses Act, 1897, held that a GI may be granted to a single producer, since the word ‘producers’ in Section 11(1) also includes its singular form. Furthermore, the order stated that all persons involved in manufacturing of the laddu are deemed as producers and TTD represents the interests of such persons.
Another important issue discussed in this case was whether the grant of the GI tag would hurt the religious susceptibilities of communities in India thereby violating Section 9(d) of the Act. It was held that a GI tag granted to religion related products do not in any way hurt the religious sentiments of any community, on the other hand it protects the devotees against non-genuine products and facilitates the growth and prosperity of the society. Also, the Registrar remarked that grant of the said GI tag was not prejudicial to the interests of any community.