Karnataka HC directs State to consider extending compensation to farmers that owe usurers

Farmer Law Insider
Farmer Law Insider

Kashish Jain 

Recently the Karnataka High Court directed the State Government to take a policy decision on extending benefits of compensation to the families of farmers who committed suicide and who had taken loans from private money lenders. 

The Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj. The Bench stated,

“We direct the Chief Secretary to place the observation made by this court in its order dated March 2, before the appropriate authority of the State Government which is empowered to take the policy decision.”

The Bench added, 

“We direct the State Government to take a policy decision on the question of extending the benefits under the Government order dated July 18, 2003, as modified from time to time, to families of farmers who commit suicide and who had taken loan from a private money lender.”

According to the information given to the Court, 125 farmers had committed suicide in Shahpur Taluk district, out of which the families of 105 farmers are entitled to compensation.

Twenty families were held to be ineligible as these farmers had not borrowed money from Banks. Out of the 105 considered eligible, 7 have not yet been compensated. 

The Court has taken a strong exception to the stand of the State Government that compensation will not be paid to the families of the farmers who had borrowed money from private players. In this regard, the Court has stated,

“State has created two artificial classes of farmers who have committed suicide. The First class is of the farmers who had taken loans or borrowed money from the banks, credit societies, etc. The Second class is of those farmers who had taken money from the Individual money lenders. The State Government has decided to deny compensation to the families of the farmers who had taken money from the private money lenders and had committed suicide.”

Thus the Court held,

“Prima Facie, it appears to us that the cause of suicide is the inability of the farmers to repay the borrowed amount with interest. Therefore, prima facie, it is very difficult to accept the classification made by the State Government will stand the test of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”

The Court has directed the District Level grievance committee to comply with the directions issued earlier, within a month.

The Court then directed the Committee to ask appropriate officers to visit the villages to find out whether any farmers have been denied the benefits of the Insurance Scheme. 

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