Punjab Cabinet on Monday approved the Bill on “The Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness 2016”.
The proposed legislation provides for a framework for expeditious determination and settlement of non-institutional agricultural debt, an official spokesman said , adding the Bill would be tabled on Tuesday in the ongoing session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for consideration.
A decision to this effect was taken in the Cabinet meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday.
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The spokesman said the Bill envisages establishment of District Level Agricultural Debt Settlement Forums and a State Level Agricultural Debt Settlement Tribunal to alleviate difficulties of farmers in getting their non-institutional debts reconciled and settled.
The District Level Forums would be headed by a retired/serving District or Additional District Session Judge and will comprise of two more members — one representative of farming community and another representative of money lenders.
The State level Tribunal would be headed by a retired Judge of the High Court and will have two more members.
Both the Forum and Tribunal will have a term of three years.
The Bill also enables the government to prescribe a maximum rate of interest which can be charged by the creditors on non-institutional loans provided by them.
The Forum will decide the dispute within three months, he said adding the jurisdiction of Civil Courts has been barred.
All pending disputes in the Civil Courts will be transferred to these Forums from the date the Act is notified.
The Forum can determine and settle the agriculture loans upto Rs 15 lakh.
The Bill will cover agriculturists and agriculture labourers as well.
According to the provisions of the proposed Bill, any debtor or creditor of agricultural loan can file a petition before the District Level Forum for settlement of their debt and if aggrieved with the order of the Forum, can file an appeal before the State Level Tribunal.