Court allows them to sell cane to any mill of their choice

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday permitted sugarcane growers from the command area of Davangere-based Bhadra Cooperative Sugar Factory, who have approached the court, to sell sugarcane to any mill of their choice and not only to the two mills — Shamanur Sugars Ltd., Duggavathi, and Davangere Sugars Ltd., Kukkavada — as mandated by the State government.

The government on October 19 passed an order assigning 116 villages in the Bhadra factory command area to the two mills, which are owned by Minister for Horticulture Shamanur Shivashankarappa and his family members.

‘Follow guidelines’

Meanwhile, the court made it clear that other sugarcane growers from this command area, who are not before the court, could sell sugarcane grown by them to other mills as well but they could do so only after following procedures such as taking permission from the authorities concerned according to the guidelines set by the Supreme Court and the High Court.

Justice A.S. Bopanna passed the interim order on the petitions filed by G.B. Shivakumar and 10 others questioning the October 19 order.

‘Political pressure’

Interestingly, two of the petitioners withdrew their pleas during the hearing and their counsel orally submitted to the court that there was tremendous “political pressure” on them to withdraw the petitions.

It was contended in the petitions that the government assigned growers in the command area in favour of the two mills to facilitate “vested interests” of the mills, ignoring the interests of growers.

Free zone

The petitioners pointed out that the Bhadra factory stopped crushing in 2011 and after that, they repeatedly sought the government to declare the command area as a “free zone” to enable them to sell sugarcane to the mills of their choice.

The government declared the area as a “free zone” in November 2011 and the growers were selling sugarcane to mills in the neighbouring areas. These mills were said to be giving a higher price than the two mills.

They said the government, in October 2013, assigned several villages in the command area in favour of these two mills without informing the growers or seeking their views as prescribed in the procedure.

The government, however, claimed that the assignment was done in the “interest of sugarcane growers” due to the closure of the Bhadra factory.

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