Questioning the Punjab government over registration of cases against farmers for stubble burning, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Wednesday asked the state chief secretary to depute a “responsible and competent” officer to court on the next date of hearing and explain under what provisions of law were the farmers being penalised. During the resumed hearing of the case filed by Bharti Kissan Union seeking compensation for restraining the farmers from burning stubble in their fields, Justice Rajan Gupta took a strong note of the registration of FIRs and issuance of penalty notices to the farmers after the court was informed that “at least 100 FIRs” had been registered against the farmers.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government counsel told the HC bench that it was was being done in accordance with the National Green Tribunal-ordered ban on burning of paddy straw. However, not satisfied with the response, the HC bench observed thart farmers were already reeling under the burden of debt and sought to know the provisions of law under which the action is being taken against them.
Advocate Charanpal Singh Bagri, representing the farmers’ union in the case, has sought directions to the Centre and state governments to “pay adequate compensation per acre to the farmers as they have been restrained from burning paddy straw, stubble and residue by various orders by the state government”.
Bagri told the HC bench that beside registration of cases against them, farmers were also being fined between Rs 2500 to Rs15,000. The HC had on October 13 said that it would consider whether actions being taken against the farmers is in accordance with law or not.