New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday asked the central government to prepare a “line of action” that the states should take for dealing with the “very serious issue” of suicides by farmers.
Asking the government to come out with a policy that would deal with farmers committing suicide, the bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that in coordination with the states, the Centre should prepare a line of action to deal with the issue.
“Agriculture is a state subject and the Centre will coordinate with states and come up with a line of action to address the root cause of farmers committing suicide,” the bench said.
Addressing the concern expressed by the bench, Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha told the court that the government was formulating a comprehensive policy to deal with the issue of farmers’ suicides.
Narasimha told the bench that government agencies were directly procuring foodgrains from the famers, and they were being given insurance cover, crop loss compensation and agriculture loans.
The court said this in the course of hearing of a plea by an NGO, Citizens Resource and Action and Initiative (CRANTI), seeking compensation to the families of the debt-ridden farmers.
Appearing for the NGO CRANTI, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves said that over 3,000 farmers had committed suicide and the government should do something to address the real issue.
The top court had on January 27, 2017, expanded the scope of the petition by the NGO, which had in 2014 approached the top court seeking compensation to the families of the debt-ridden farmers committing suicide in Gujarat.
While expanding the scope of the petition by the NGO, the top court had on January 27 sought response from the Centre, state governments, union territories and the Reserve Bank of India on the reasons for farmers’ suicides, as it described it as a “sensitive matter”.
Besides seeking interim financial assistance and compensation of Rs five lakh each to the families of 619 famers who had committed suicide since 2003, the petitioner NGO has sought direction to the Gujarat government to pay compulsory financial aid to the farmers who have suffered crop failure.
The NGO had challenged the July 10, 2013, order of the Gujarat High Court dismissing its plea, saying that courts could not interfere in policy matters.
The Gujarat government in an RTI reply had said that since 2003 — when suicides by the farmers started in Gujarat — till August 20, 2012, 619 farmers have committed suicide in the state.