Making good quality seeds available to the cultivators is the primary aim behind enacting the Seeds Act of 1966. Providing a legal framework for seed certification is another goal. It was in 1969 that systematic seed certification started in India. The Central Seed Committee was set up under the Act. The Committee is responsible for providing advisory services in seed-related matters to the states. Seed Certification Boards, State Seed Testing Laboratories, and Seed Certification Agencies in the States are established under the Act. The Seeds Act has a total of 25 clauses.
Table of Contents
Important Provisions of Seeds Act 1966
The Act is applicable to the entirety of India. Oil crops, seeds of cattle fodder, cotton seeds, all kinds of vegetative propagating material, and food crops fall within its purview. The Act allows the Central Seed Committee to notify in the official gazette when a suitable variety is found. The purity of seed and the minimum limit of germination for a variety shall be fixed by the Committee. Labelling and marking seed lots to be sold commercially are also the duties of the Committee. The labelling done must reveal the true identity of the variety and thus must be truthful.
The seeds must meet the minimum limits of purity and germination. Then, only will they be provided with the necessary certification by the Certification Agency. If it is found that the holder has obtained certification by misrepresentation, then it will be revoked. A revoked certificate may be appealed before an appellate authority on payment of a prescribed fee.
A seed analyst carries out seed testing. The Act provides for his appointment. Such an officer shall fall within the definition of a public servant. The seed inspector can send samples from any purchaser or seller and send them for seed analysis. Certain procedures are laid down in the Act regarding seed collection. Once the analysis is completed, a report must be submitted by the seed analyst to the purchaser or seller and the seed inspector.
Additionally, the Act places a few restrictions on the export and import of seed varieties. All varieties must meet the minimum purity and seed germination limits. If the provisions of the Act are not complied with, then punishments or penalties shall be lashed out. Another form of punishment provided under the Act is forfeiture of seeds owned. If a company commits an offence, then all those in charge who failed to perform their duties shall be held vicariously liable.
Definition of Seed as per Seeds Act 1966
The generic definition of a seed is as follows: the reproduction unit of a flowering plant is referred to as a seed. A seed contains stored materials, a protective coat, and an embryonic plant. Every seed grows into a new plant under suitable environmental conditions, such as the right moisture, sunlight, and temperature. India is an agrarian nation, and seeds are a basic necessity to sustain agricultural practices.
As per the Seeds Act of 1966 the definition of seed talks about the classes of seeds that fall within the purview of the Act. It includes the following types:
- Cotton seeds
- Jute seeds
- Seeds of fruits and vegetables
- Edible oil seeds
- Seeds of cattle fodder
- Tubers, rhizomes, cuttings, roots, bulbs, seedlings, other vegetatively propagated material, and grafts of cattle fodder or food crops.
The types mentioned above are provided under Section 2 (11) of the Act.
Formation of Seed Committee
As per Section 3 of the Seeds Act, a Seed Committee is constituted by the Central Government to carry out functions assigned to it by the Act. The Committee is also responsible for advising the State and Union Governments on matters arising out of the administration of the Act.
Members of the Seed Committee
The following members shall be a part of the Committee:
- The Central Government nominates eight members to represent its interests. Out of these eight members, two must be seed growers.
- The State Governments nominate one member each.
- The Central Government nominates the Chairman of the Committee.
Tenure of Members
The tenure of each member of the Committee shall be two years. This shall be the fixed tenure unless a premature vacancy arises on the grounds of death or resignation. All members shall be eligible for re-nomination. The Committee may make bylaws for the conduct of its business and regulation of its procedure.
The quorum may be decided in such a manner as well. Prior permission from the Central Government is essential for legislating bylaws. A Secretary is appointed to the Committee by the Central Government. It shall also provide the necessary clerical and officer staff to the Committee.
Institution of Sub-Committees
The Seed Committee can appoint as many sub-committees as it deems fit. The sub-committee members shall either be entirely a part of the seed committee or not at all. The sub-committees may also consist of half the members belonging to the seed committee and the other half not.
The sub-committees shall perform such duties as delegated to them by the Seed Committee. A vacancy in the membership of the Seed Committee or a sub-committee does not void any functions performed or decisions taken by them.
Registration of Seed Varieties
As per Section 5 of the Seeds Act, the Central Government can declare a certain variety of seeds as a notified kind. Such notification is carried out if the Central Government thinks that the quality of a variety of seed sold for agricultural purposes needs to be regulated. The Government has the power to notify different seeds for different nation states.
Section 6 of the Seeds Act discusses specifications regarding minimum limits of purity and germination. The minimum limit of purity and germination of a notified variety of seed is specified by the Central Government in consultation with the Seed Committee. Whether a variety of seeds conforms to the minimum limit of purity and germination is to be specified by a label or a mark. The particulars that such label or mark must contain are prescribed by the Government as well.
Conditions of Selling Notified Variety of Seeds
Seeds of any notified variety may be sold only under the following conditions, as per Section 7 of the Seeds Act:
- The variety adheres to the minimum limits of purity and germination.
- The label or mark on the seed container specifies the accurate particulars regarding the seed.
- The variety or kind of the seed is identifiable.
- Any other requirements as prescribed by the Seed Committee or the Central Government must be followed.
As per Section 8 of the Seeds Act, every state in India shall have a certificate agency. The agency shall perform all functions imparted to it under the Act. The certificate agency is established either by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government or by the State Government itself.
Section 8A of the Act provides for the institution of the Central Seed Certification Board. The Central Government establishes the Board to carry out the purpose of regulating the various certification agencies set up through the mandate of the Act. Additionally, the Board provides advisory services to the State and Union Governments.
Members of the Certification Board
The Certification Board consists of the following members:
- The Central Government shall appoint four members nominated from the Directors of Agriculture employed by the State Governments.
- The Central Government nominates thirteen members to represent its interests. Out of these thirteen members, at least four shall be tradesmen or seed producers.
- The Central Government nominates a Chairman.
- The Central Government shall appoint three members nominated from the Directors of Research employed by Agricultural Universities.
Tenure of Members
The tenure of every member is two years. Thus shall be the tenure unless a premature vacancy is created due to the death or resignation of a member. However, if a member has been nominated by any other office he holds, he shall cease to be a part of the Board once his tenure at the office ends. Business transactions and procedures of the Certification Board may be regulated by bylaws made by it on this behalf. This is as per Section 8D of the Act.
Issuance of Certificate
An application needs to be made to the concerned Certification Agency regarding the grant of a certificate. Such an application shall be made by any individual keeping for sale, bartering, selling, or offering to sell any notified seed variety. The prescribed fees must accompany every application. The form in which the application must be submitted and its particulars are also specified. A certificate is granted only if the certificate agency is satisfied that the variety of seeds adheres to the prescribed purity and germination standards. The agency may also conduct an enquiry if necessary. This is according to Section 9 of the Act.
Revocation of Certificate
Section 10 of the Seeds Act outlines the grounds for revoking issued certificates. A revocation may occur under the following circumstances:
- Non-compliance with the conditions for which the holder granted the certificate.
- Misrepresentation of a crucial fact to obtain the certificate.
- The certificate holder is given a fair opportunity to present their case before revocation.
As per Section 13 of the Act, Seed Inspectors are appointed by the State Government. The Inspectors must possess certain prescribed qualifications. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of the inspectors is defined by the Government as well. All seed inspectors shall be public servants, and they work subordinate to authorities specified by the State Government.
A seed inspector must provide written notice before samples of a notified variety of seeds are taken. He must take three separate samples in all cases. He must retain one sample for use in a possible future legal proceeding. One sample is to be sent to the seed analyst for analysis. Finally, one sample must be delivered to the person from whom it is taken. If the owner of the samples refuses to accept one back, then the same must be notified to the analyst, who divides his sample into two parts and delivers the untested part to the inspector.
If the inspector has conducted a search and seizure, then the magistrate must be duly notified regarding the seizure of any stocks, registers, documents, or records.
Powers of Seed Inspector
According to Section 14 of the Seeds Act, the powers of the Seed Inspector are as follows:
- Collecting samples from individuals involved in delivering, conveying, or selling a notified seed variety.
- Collecting samples from a consignee or purchaser after they have received a notified seed variety.
- Sending the collected samples to the Seed Analyst of the respective jurisdiction for analysis.
- Conducting inspections at any reasonable time if there is suspicion of an offence under the Act.
- Confiscating the seed stock related to the committed offence.
- Issuing an order to the owner prohibiting the disposal of any stock related to the committed offence for a maximum period of 30 days.
- Examining or seizing any register, document, or record that may serve as evidence of the offence.
When taking samples from sellers or buyers of a notified seed variety, the authorities must compensate based on the market price. During an inspection, if the owner of the inspected premises refuses to open the door, the inspector is empowered to open it forcibly. They also have the authority to open any container containing a notified seed variety.
In cases of seed sample seizure, the inspector must ensure that at least two witnesses are present and have them sign a memorandum. All searches and seizures under the Act must adhere to the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Seeds Act of 1966 was established to regulate the quality of agricultural seeds. However, the Act has some shortcomings, which the Seed Bill of 2019 aims to address. According to the bill, all seeds for sale must meet certain minimum standards and be registered. The Environment (Protection) Act is referenced for registering transgenic seed varieties. Seed companies will be held accountable through registration.
The bill provides exemptions for farmers who develop their own seed varieties. They can exchange, sell, or plant their own seeds without adhering to prescribed purity and germination limits. However, they cannot sell these seeds under a brand name. Additionally, recommendations have been made for the exemption of export-oriented varieties, which will promote custom seed production within the country.
FAQs on Seeds Act
What is the definition of seed as per the Seeds Act?
As per the Seeds Act of 1966, the definition of seed talks about the classes of seeds that fall within the purview of the Act. It includes the following types - cotton seeds, jute seeds, seeds of fruits and vegetables, and edible oil seeds.
Who all are members of the seed committee?
The following members shall be a part of the Committee - the Central Government nominates eight members to represent its interests, the State Governments nominate one member each, and the Central Government nominates the Chairman of the Committee.
What is provided in the Act regarding the minimum limit of purity and germination?
The minimum limit of purity and germination of a notified variety of seed is specified by the Central Government in consultation with the Seed Committee. Whether a variety of seeds conforms to the minimum limit of purity and germination is to be specified by a label or a mark.
What is the main aim of the Seeds Act of 1966?
Making good quality seeds available to the cultivators is the primary aim behind enacting the Seeds Act of 1966. Providing a legal framework for seed certification is another goal.
Which bill has been introduced to amend the Seeds Act?
The Seeds Act of 1966 was legislated and enacted to regulate the quality of seeds used in agricultural production. However, the Act has certain drawbacks. The Seed Bill 2019 has been introduced to amend some of these shortcomings.