Ahead of the Union government’s plan to amend the Land Acquisition Act enacted by the previous UPA government, Chief Justice of India H L Dattu advocated minimisation of acquisition of agricultural land by governments for corporate sector to help the farming community, in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
Talking about his own roots as a farmer back home in Karnataka, Justice Dattu said that the families of some farmers who had committed suicide had to pay bribe to get certificates to prove the same to get compensation.
“Apart from the discussion on the impact of climate change on farmers, it can also think of how farmers can be helped by the party in power. In my opinion, if we minimise the agriculture land being acquired by the state governments for the purpose of handing over to the corporate sector, it could help the agricultural community to a large extent. Don’t mistake me for saying this … this is for the only reason that agriculturists depend on these land, it is their bread. Yes, you can take that because you are the sovereign state, but when you take it, give him (farmer) not just compensation but something more than compensation,” Justice Dattu said, addressing a conference at Nirma University in Ahmedabad on “Strengthening Climate Justice Initiatives: Livelihood Challenges at Local Level with a Focus on Farmers.”
“As a Supreme Court judge when the state government questions an order passed by High Courts enhancing the compensation for acquiring the lands, I have the habit of looking into the eyes of such lawyers who appear for the state. The first question I ask is — Look gentleman, you have acquired their land, why should you be so finicky in giving compensation that has been fixed by the HC. He looks at me, I look at him, and say enough is enough. Why I am doing this is for the only purpose that farmers require their agricultural lands, it is their bread. Please give them fair compensation,” the Chief Justice said. “This is one area I really want to tell the present minister (Bhupendrasinh Chudasma) to pass it on to his higher-ups.”
Justice Dattu, while explaining the impact of climate change on farmers, also spoke on the issue of farmers’ suicide. He said that it is heartbreaking to read the account of families of farmers, who committed suicide, are subjected to inhuman treatment.
“We subject the families of farmers who commit suicide to inhuman treatment. For example, they are required to submit a post-mortem report certifying that the death was due to suicide so as to make them eligible for compensation. But the plague of corruption in our system has entered so deeply that often such families are required to bribe individuals to get this report. It is heart-breaking to read the account of families who are not able to get certificates,” he said.
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