The Indian government hailed as "historic" a Supreme Court ruling on Monday against a plea by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG to protect the patent on its drug Glivec.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the ruling -- seen as a victory by health rights campaigners -- reaffirmed provisions in Indian law that mandate the need for substantial innovation before new patents are issued on medicines. (Reporting By Matthias Williams; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel, editing by Ross Colvin)