How many farmers benefited from loan waiver scheme?: HC

Left in the lurch: The plea said only 15 lakh of the 35 lakh eligible farmers have received benefits under the scheme so far.   | Photo Credit: PAUL NORONHA

The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to furnish details about the number of farmers who have benefited from the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Shetkari Karjmukti Yojna (MJPSKY), which was announced in December last year.

A Division Bench of Justices K.K. Tated and N.R. Borkar was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ashish Shelar through senior advocate Rajendra Pai. The petition said as per the scheme, farmers who had taken bank loans of up to ₹2 lakh between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2019, and had not repaid these loans till September 30, 2019, are eligible for a waiver on the entire amount.

The plea said around 35 lakh farmers were eligible to seek benefits under the scheme. It stated, “There were more than one crore farmers across the State and only around 15 lakh farmers have benefited so far, while loans of the majority of others are not yet waived.”

In his plea, Mr. Shelar said he wished to know why all eligible farmers had not got the benefit of the scheme. The MLA said he had raised this question several times in the State Assembly, but he did not receive a satisfactory answer. Left with no other option, he decided to approach the High Court, seeking directions for implementation of the scheme, the plea said.

Additional government pleader Geeta Shastri, appearing for the State government, said since the petitioner is a MLA, he could have easily obtained information on the number of beneficiaries of the scheme from department concerned or by filing an application under the Right to Information Act.

‘Based on news reports’

Ms. Shastri said, “The PIL was based on news reports and did not show any actual figures of the number of beneficiaries, which were available with the concerned department.”

The court told Mr. Pai that he should have also done some research of his own. The Bench asked the State government to inform the court “why only some farmers” had received the benefit of the MJPSKY scheme. The Bench then directed the State to file an affidavit in reply to the petition within three weeks and Mr. Shelar to file a rejoinder.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on October 22.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 11:46:52 PM |

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