The Supreme Court on Friday has asked the centre, state, UT and RBI to suggest measures to deal with situations that often force farmers to commit suicide.
Seeking response from the Centre, states, union territories and the RBI, the Supreme Court on Friday asked them to suggest measures to deal with situations that often force farmers to commit suicide and also about the policies aimed at protecting them from crop failures due to natural calamities and debts.
Rapping the government for lack of national policy to protect them from such situations, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar asked the government, states and the RBI to file their responses about the measures for providing crop-security to the farmers.
It also expanded the scope and ambit of a PIL that had sought the top court’s intervention in Gujarat where between 2003 and 2012, 692 farmers had allegedly committed suicide.
The judges said that the problem was not limited to Gujarat as farmers in other states and union territories were adversely affected by natural calamities leading to crop failure.
The apex court had earlier this month issued notice to the Centre and seven states — West Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — on another PIL demanding that lands acquired for special economic zones be returned to the farmers in case of non-utilisation.
In the last two decades, the number of suicides by the farmers in different parts of the country has been increasing at an alarming rate.
According to NCRB’s 2014 report, 5,650 farmers had committed suicides in that year. Maharashtra reported the highest suicides at 2,568 followed by Telangana with 898 and Madhya Pradesh with 826.
In its 2013 petition, Citizens Resource and Act on Initiative (CRANTI) had sought compensation of R5 lakh each for the families of 692 farmers who allegedly committed suicide in Gujarat during January 2003 to October 2012.
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CRANTI came to the Supreme Court after the Gujarat High Court refused to hear it, saying the prayers sought by the petitioner related to policy decisions of the government and the court could not deal with policy matters.
The petitioner had contended that Gujarat farmers did not get crop insurance money which affected their ability to pay back bank loans. It had demanded a change in agriculture policy of the Gujarat government for drought-affected areas.