Union agriculture ministry’s affidavit is funny, says HC

Telangana High Court on Monday described the counter affidavit filed by Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in PIL petition relating to crop insurance as “funny”.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice T. Vinod Kumar, hearing the plea seeking notification of crop insurance in Telangana State, said it was “amazed at this sort of counter affidavit.”

The counter affidavit was filed by the ministry’s under secretary Vijay Soni.

The petitioner Vissa Kiran Kumar expressed concern over the extensive crop damage due to incessant rains in Telangana in September and October of 2020. He wanted the Union government to extend compensation to all affected ryots in the form of input subsidy. He wanted the court to declare inaction of authorities over enumeration and assessment of crop damage as arbitrary and illegal.

The under secretary, in his affidavit, stated that his ministry was mandated to coordinate relief measures required during drought, hailstorm, pest attack and frost/cold wave.

“It is the Union Ministry of Home Affairs which is responsible to coordinate relief measures for heavy rains/floods,” the affidavit mentioned. Since the petitioner raised matters relating to rains and floods, the Agriculture Ministry had no role to play, the under secretary stated.

“What kind of an affidavit is this?” the Acting Chief Justice asked Assistant Solicitor General Namavarapu Rajeshwar Rao, observing that crop insurance is also the responsibility of Agriculture Ministry. Expressing dissatisfaction over the stand taken in the affidavit, the bench remarked that both the ministries are trying to wash their hands off the issue.

The Acting Chief Justice noted that the Agriculture Ministry official’s response is akin to the situation of an elephant and a visually challenged person accommodated in the same room. “It is like the visually challenged person is saying this is trunk and that is head by touching the elephant,” the Acting CJ said.

‘Silly excuses’

When the bench wanted to know the response of State government in the matter, a government pleader attached to the Advocate General’s office sought some time and said the delay in furnishing details was due to his personal inconveniences. “We are not concerned with your personal inconveniences. There are several lawyers in AG’s office. What kind of silly excuses are being offered,” the bench observed.

The matter was posted after two days for next hearing.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 1:48:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/union-agriculture-ministrys-affidavit-is-funny-says-hc/article36327766.ece

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