Deccan Chronicle: New Delhi: Saturday, January 28, 2017.
The Supreme Court on Friday sought response of the Centre and all States on an NGO’s allegation that drought and debt drove more than 600 farmers to commit suicide in Gujarat alone between 2003 and 2012, when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister.
A bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice N.V. Ramana issued the notice and wanted the Centre to respond whether there is any policy on crop loans when there is a natural calamity. The Bench also wanted the RBI to indicate the policy on loan waiver in such situations.
The notice was issued on a petition filed by Mallika Sarabhai-founded NGO ‘Citizens Resource and Action Initiative’ which challenged the Gujarat High Court’s decision not to intervene in the case on the ground that farmers’ relief and rehabilitation was a state policy matter.
The court in 2014 had issued notice only to Gujarat. During the resumed hearing, it was pointed out that there is no policy on waivers in case of crop loss due to natural calamities and farmer is left with only crop insurance.
The NGO said its coordinator, Bharat Sinh Jhala, had made a series of RTI queries forcing the Gujarat government to disclose that from 2003 till 2007, as many as 498 farmers committed suicide.