THE SUPREME Court on Monday ordered a stay on the Madras High Court directive asking the Tamil Nadu government to extend its crop loan waiver scheme to all farmers, including those with landholdings above five acres. A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta issued notice to the Association of Agriculturists while staying the April 4 order of the High Court’s Madurai bench.
The Tamil Nadu government counsel said that the scheme was intended to give relief only to small and marginal farmers, who held land below five acres and had taken loans from cooperative banks and societies. The state government would suffer irreparable loss if the High Court order, which also imposed a three-month deadline, was not stayed, the counsel said.
The waiver scheme was notified by Tamil Nadu’s Cooperation, Food and Consumer Protection Department in May 2016 under the AIADMK government led by late J Jayalalithaa. The list of beneficiaries, said the counsel, was drawn up in 2016.
The High Court had passed the order on writ petitions, which wanted the scheme to be extended to all farmers of the state, irrespective of the size of their land holdings. The order had also asked the Centre to extend a helping hand when the state was finding it difficult to meet the financial obligations of farmers.