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SC seeks response from Centre, states on farmers’ suicides

IANS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the central and state governments, union territories administrations and the Reserve Bank of India on the reasons for the "sensitive matter" of farmers' suicide.

Describing the issue as a sensitive matter affecting the farmers across the country, the bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice NVRamana gave the Centre, RBI, States and UTs four weeks time to respond to the plea. 

Expressing its displeasure over the absence of any national policy to shield the farmers who have lost their crops due to natural calamities and also to address the problem of debts, the bench said that was sad and unfortunate that farmers were committing suicides on account of crop failure and inability to repay agricultural loans.

The court also expanded the scope of the issue raised by the NGO Citizens Resource and Action and Initiative (CRANTI) in 2014 when on October 31, 2014, notice was issued to Gujarat on a plea seeking compensation to the families of the debt-ridden farmers who had committed suicide.

Besides seeking interim financial assistance and compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of 619 famers who have committed suicide since 2003, the NGO has sought direction to Gujarat government to pay compulsory financial aid to the farmers who have suffered crop failure.

It had also sought direction to the Gujarat government to ensure prompt payment to the farmers.

The NGO had also challenged the July 10, 2013 order of the Gujarat High Court dismissing its plea, holding that courts could not interfere in the policy matters. 

The Gujarat government in a RTI response had said that since 2003 – when suicides by the farmers started in Gujarat – till August 20, 2012, 619 farmers have committed suicides in the state.