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Indian Scientist Sues International Genetic Centre for $5 Million

Lawyers of a senior Indian scientist have asked the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in New Delhi to pay $5 million in// compensation to their client for alleged "mental torture, violation of fundamental rights, denial of rights to live with dignity and liberty and causing damage to his reputation".

Events leading to the unprecedented litigation involving an international research centre and a top crop scientist - who is a Fellow of Indian National Science Academy and recipient of the prestigious Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award - are expected to be discussed at the ICGEB Governing Board meeting in New Delhi this week. The board represents 43 member countries.

Supreme Court lawyer Vineet Bhagat told IANS that the case is being filed before the Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation, since ICGEB has refused to set up a Joint Appeals Board provided under its staff rules. Besides damages, costs of litigation ($1 million) have also been claimed.

Madan Mohan, who had put in more than 17 years of service at ICGEB and an acknowledged authority on rice genetics, was involved in developing rice resistant to "gall-midge" insect that causes $700 million damage every year in India and Southeast Asia.

Last year he was awarded $110,000 three-year grant from the Indian department of biotechnology (DBT) for pursuing research on "gall-midge".

But ICGEB terminated his service on Sep 30, 2006, closed down the group that he had been leading and -- without his knowledge and much to his dismay -- returned to DBT the unutilised grant. Mohan has since been invited and appointed as professor of plant biotechnology at the University of Delhi.

Set up 19 years ago, the ICGEB was intended to spearhead the transfer of western biotechnology to developing nations. The centre is split into two components, one based in New Delhi and the other in Trieste, Italy.

Many scienti
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