Updated: October 31, 2014 8:06:32 pm
Acting on a petition that, among other prayers, seeks compensation of Rs 5 lakhs for the families of 692 farmers who reportedly committed suicide in Gujarat between January 2003 and October 2012, a bench of Supreme Court issued notice to Gujarat Government directing it to file reply in four weeks.
The petitioner group has been identified as Citizens Resource & Action Initiative (CRANTI). It had earlier, in 2013, moved a public interest litigation before Gujarat High Court in this regard. However, the petition was not allowed by HC reportedly on the ground that the prayers sought in it were concerning policy decisions of the government on which the court could not issue any directions.
Following the HC’s order, the petitioner group has approached the apex court. Co-ordinator of CRANTI, Bharatsinh Zala, said that they had collected figures of farmers’ suicide in Gujarat through Right to Information Act (RTI) applications. And the figures revealed that between 2003 and 2012, total 692 farmers had committed suicide in Gujarat.
Zala contended that the police documents related to the suicides indicate that the farmers did not get crop insurance money that led to deteriorate their financial condition and blocked their ability to pay back bank loans.
The petitioner has sought a range of directions by the court to the State Government that includes a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs to the families of each of the farmers who have committed suicide. The petitioner has also sought a direction to the state government to announce a financial package for farmers during drought. The petitioner has also sought a change in agriculture policy of the State Government for the drought affected villages.
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