New Delhi, 27 January 2017. ‘Why is there no policy to protect the lives of the country’s bread-winners ?’
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre and the States to explain whether there was a lifeline, including a comprehensive insurance plan, for farmers to end the vicious circle plaguing the agriculture sector.
It was alarmed that crop failure and natural calamities were driving debt-ridden farmers across the country to take their lives.
PIL’s scope widened
Widening the scope of a public interest litigation petition filed by an NGO on the farmers of Gujarat, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar included all the States, the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India in the litigation in an effort to get a holistic picture of the plight of farmers.
Terming the death of farmers due to crop losses a “human rights issue,” the Bench asked why the government had not yet formulated a national policy to protect the lives of the country’s bread-winners.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the NGO, Citizens Resource and Action and Initiative, seeking a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of 692 farmers who committed suicide in Gujarat between January 2003 and October 2012.
Their crops had failed and their bank loans began to choke them. The petition also sought financial relief from the government for farmers facing drought. It pleaded for a humane agricultural policy, taking into consideration the probable loss of crops, to help farmers tide over a drought-like situation.