Pulling up the Maharashtra government after failed soybean seeds affected thousands of farmers from rural areas, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently observed that the state government did not show any intention to take criminal action against the vendors and producers of bogus seeds.
A division bench of Justices Tanaji V Nalawade and Shrikant D Kulkarni, on June 26, took suo motu cognizance of news reports pertaining to complaints about no action against traders and companies, made by nearly 2,000 farmers in districts such as Nanded, Parbhani, Hingoli and Ahmednagar, who recently purchased soybean seeds that could not germinate. The farmers are feeling helpless as the sowing was already done by them during favourable conditions in the ongoing kharif season, the court noted.
The bench has appointed lawyer P P More as amicus curiae to assist the court with the suo motu public interest litigation.
The HC also noted that the state agriculture minister, Dadasaheb Bhuse, on June 25, had expressed there were no provisions of taking criminal actions under the Seeds Act, 1966, but he was trying to ensure that the farmers were given fresh seeds. However, the bench said that stern action could be taken under the seeds Act and other penal provisions to avoid harm to agricultural production.
HC said similar complaints were made nearly four years ago and such issues cannot be closed by supplying more seeds as sowing precedes other operations, for which farmers need to invest resources.
The bench observed, “It can be said that the government, [and] the concerned department has no intention to take criminal action against the vendors and producers of the bogus seeds, even when they have duped the farmers and caused huge loss not only to the farmers but to the country. The yield will definitely come down due to the sale of such bogus seeds.” It added, “This season is more peculiar, as due to the pandemic of Covid-19, peculiar circumstances are created. They are used by the traders and so, the offence committed by them is graver in nature.” The traders and officials have acted in “virtually cruel manner”, and they cannot be spared, the court said.
The high court will hear the PIL next on July 7.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines