The Supreme Court stayed the Madras High Court order directing the Tamil Nadu government to waive farm loans, irrespective of the farmers’ land holding. In April this year, the high court passed the order after the state farmers protested in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar demanding Rs 40,000 crore assistance from the Centre.
In July, the state government waived loans taken out by marginal and small farmers, and extended partial debt relief for farmers with bigger land holding. The high court, however, ordered the government to extend the relief to all the farmers, irrespective of their land holding.
“The land holding register and the loan register maintained by the banks do not necessarily reflect the actual land ownership. A farmer might have shown land details only for which he is seeking a loan,” the court said.
The order meant an additional 300,000 farmers will become eligible for the debt waiver scheme. The burden on the state exchequer increased from Rs 5,780 crore to Rs 7769.33 crore.
Earlier this year, farmers from Tamil Nadu protested for over 30 days at Jantar Mantar demanding the government to write off their loans and bring out a drought relief package. They made headlines for their novel, sometimes shocking, forms of protest. They tonsured their heads, took out mock funerals, flogged themselves, stripped outside the PMO office, and sat with skulls of farmers who committed suicide. The farmers had called off the agitation after a meeting with Chief Minister Edapaddi Palanisami.