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Friday, February 26, 2021

HC denies pre-arrest bail to elderly couple on farmers’ complaint

The accused -- Vijay Kumar and his wife Darshna Rani, have been booked at PS Ahmedgarh, Sangrur, on the complaint of farmers including Baljeet Singh Tiwana and others from village Lassoi.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 30, 2021 10:10:00 pm
Punjab and Haryana High Court, farmers protest, internet ban, punjab internet ban, haryana internet ban, union governmet, haryana government, Article 19 (1) (a), Article 19 (1) (g), chandigarh news, indian expressPunjab and Haryana High Court. (Express file photo by Jasbir Malhi)

In a case of cheating filed by farmers against commission agents over denial of payment for their crop, the Punjab and Haryana High Court denied pre-arrest bail to an elderly couple, who are accused in the case, and said that allowing middlemen to get away after usurping the price of the crops would be travesty of justice.

The accused — Vijay Kumar and his wife Darshna Rani, have been booked at PS Ahmedgarh, Sangrur, on the complaint of farmers including Baljeet Singh Tiwana and others from village Lassoi. The farmers had alleged that Vijay Kumar and his whole family, including his wife Darshna Rani and son, have been working as commission agents at village Lassoi.

The accused had purchased Kharif (rice crop) but did not make the payment to the concerned farmers according to J forms, although they had received the amount deposited by the government with regard to the crops sold by the farmers, the complaint had alleged. It was alleged that the accused paid only Rs 28 lakhs out of total amount of Rs 70 lakh due, and the remaining amount was misappropriated. Further, the complaint alleged, that a fraud of about Rs 87 lakhs, which included payments for earlier crops as well as for Kharif crop, was committed by the accused. The pre-arrest bail plea of the accused was dismissed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Sangrur on December 29, 2020, following which they have moved to High Court seeking bail.

The petitioner’s (accused) counsel contended that as per normal practice in the villages, the farmers receive money from the commission agent from time to time, which is finally adjusted against the money payable to them as price of the crops sold by the farmers through agency of the commission agent. The money stood already paid and the petitioners do not have any financial liability towards the complainant.

The counsel pointed out that Vijay Kumar is an aged person of 63 years not keeping good health, while Darshna Rani is a woman aged about 64 years, who is not aware of the family business.

The bench of Justice HS Madaan, however, held, “With serious and grave allegations of fraud and misappropriation being there against the petitioners, their old age or ailments etc. cannot help them in escaping arrest and custodial interrogation, which in this case is found to be necessary for complete and effective investigation and to recover the misappropriated money belonging to the farmers. The court cannot lose sight of the fact that hard earned money running into lakhs of rupees belonging to the complaint/farmers has been usurped by the petitioners, who are stated to have created huge properties by use of this money and other money said to have been misappropriated by the petitioner/accused Vijay Kumar of various farmers at Khanna.

Leniency and misplaced sympathy cannot be shown to the petitioners by granting concession of pre-arrest bail to them by ignoring the plight of the complainant/farmers, who do hard work and put in lot of efforts in the agricultural operation.”

The court added: “If some middleman successfully usurps the price of the crops and is allowed to go scot-free, that shall result in travesty of the justice and would amount to great injustice to the affected complainant/farmers. Both the petitioners are stake holders in the commission agency business and are liable to pay dues of the complainant/farmers.”

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