Legal Correspondent

Finance Ministry, RBI must present list of banks and loan particulars

“Relief may be specific to Maharashtra or U.P. for political reasons”

New Delhi: The budget proposal to waive farm loans to the tune of Rs. 60,000 crore has been challenged in the Supreme Court through a public interest litigation petition.

Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma on Monday made a mention before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran for expeditious hearing of the petition, which questioned the basis on which the government arrived at the Rs 60,000-crore figure.

Refusing to grant early hearing, the Chief Justice told counsel: “It is a budget proposal. We don’t want to discuss the matter which is going to be discussed in Parliament. No early hearing can be given. It will be listed in due course. You may go to the appropriate forum.”

The petition sought a direction to the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India to place before the court the list of banks and particulars of the loan amount due to them. Contending that that the write-off was limited to farmers who had taken loans from nationalised banks, the petition sought a direction that the loan waiver scheme be extended to all those who had taken loans from private moneylenders and private banks.

Political reasons

“The proposal does not provide relief to all farmers in the country. It may be specific to farmers of Maharashtra or Uttar Pradesh for political reasons as there is no list or detail of relief to farmers in other States.” It was not clear whether the scheme was intended only to those farmers who owned land and also to those who were cultivating land on lease, the petitioner said.