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SC pulls up Centre on farmer suicides

SC pulls up Centre on farmer suicides
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Highlights

The Supreme Court on Friday advised the Centre and states to take steps to prevent suicide by farmers by addressing their problems instead of focusing on payment of compensation to the victims’ families. 

Says govt is going in a ‘wrong direction’ S Asks it to spell out policies to prevent suicides

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday advised the Centre and states to take steps to prevent suicide by farmers by addressing their problems instead of focusing on payment of compensation to the victims’ families.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice S K Kaul said the issue of farmers' suicide is of "extreme importance”, stating that the government was going in a "wrong direction" in tackling the real problem".

The Apex court, while asking the Centre to spell out its policies to prevent suicides, said “it is surprising that the government has not taken any action to address the causes behind these suicides, happening for so many decades”.

“Paying compensation to the victim's families is not the real solution,” it said. The bench said it was sad and unfortunate that farmers were committing suicides on account of crop failure and inability to repay agricultural loans.

"We feel that you (government) are going in a wrong direction. Farmers take loans from banks and when they are unable to repay, they commit suicide. The remedy to the problem is not to pay money to farmers after the suicide, but you should have schemes to prevent this," said the bench, expressing its displeasure.

“Famers suffered losses whenever there was a bumper crop causing the market price to fall or a crop failure due to drought or flood,” it added.

The Central government told the court that it has started many schemes for farmers and the 2015 crop insurance scheme would drastically reduce such fateful incidents.

The court was hearing the plea filed by NGO Citizens Resource and Action and Initiative, seeking compensation to the families of the debt-ridden farmers who had committed suicide in Gujarat. The bench had earlier expanded the scope of the petition to the entire country.

Arguing for the petitioner, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves pleaded with the court to appoint a committee headed by MS Swaminathan to “get quick results.”

Earlier, the Apex court had sought the response of the Centre and all states to the petitioner’s contention that drought and debt drove more than 600 farmers to commit suicide in Gujarat alone between 2003 and 2012, when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister.

The court wanted to know if there was any policy to waive crop loans in the wake of natural calamities. The Bench also wanted the Reserve Bank of India to indicate the policy on loan waiver in such situations.

The NGO has collected detailed information about the reasons that led to the suicide of 41 farmers. The reasons were increasing amount of loan, cotton crop failure due to no rain, bad economic situation, inability to pay instalments on loans taken for tractor, seeds and other agricultural implements.

The court posted the matter for March 27.

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