THE AURANGABAD bench of the Bombay High Court recently raised concerns over an increase in cases of traders cheating farmers, and observed that traders take advantage of farmers’ inability to afford litigation compelling them to die by suicide.
Observing this, the court refused to quash a complaint of cheating against three persons accused of deceiving banana farmers from Jalgaon district. The accused allegedly cheated the farmers on the promise of more profit if they sold their produce at higher prices to traders through their contacts in the transportation business.
A division bench of Justice Tanaji V Nalawade and Justice Mukund G Sewlikar on December 7 made these observations while hearing the criminal application by Mayur Khandelwal (28), Kailashchandra Khandelwal (58) and Akil Husonoddin Shaikh (37), residents of Raver taluka in Jalgaon district. The FIR against them was registered by Jalgaon police on July 28, 2017.
Police booked the trio under sections 420 (cheating) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the IPC. The complaint was lodged by an informant, who is a broker in agricultural produce.
The court also noted, “It cannot be said that applicants had no intention to deceive. They were involved in these transactions. They had collected the money as sale proceeds, but they did not pass the amount to the informant and the farmers… There is material to make out the offence of misappropriation and also the cheating.”
In light of this, the bench, led by Justice Nalawade, stated, “Such instances are increasing day by day. It is unfortunate, but it is a fact that all systems are not showing sensitivity towards problems faced by farmers. Farmers have no resource and they cannot afford indulging into litigation. This inability is used by traders like the applicants, and they make money on the agricultural produce that farmers get after working hard.”
The court added, “Farmer suicides are increasing day by day as farmers are facing all kinds of problems, and the problem of cheating is additional circumstance compelling farmers to commit suicide. Due to all these circumstances, this court holds that no relief can be granted in favour of applicants.”