The Punjab and Haryana high court has come down heavily on the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and observed that the central government's actions indicate that its stand is "anti-farmer".
The HC observations came during the hearing of a petition seeking minimum support price (MSP) to farmers producing crops covered under the MSP fixed by the government.
The court had asked the Centre to take a decision within two weeks on a proposal sent by the state government for the procurement of maize, for which it had sought Rs 500 crore as funds, among other demands.
However, the Union government, in its reply, had stated that it was unable to grant the funds sought by the state, adding that maize was not covered under the public distribution system. The Centre's letter further stated that the state government should not have directly come to the former and should have approached the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
Furious over the handling of the issue by the Centre, the court asked the central government counsel as to what was the hitch in procuring farm produce of poor farmers.
"India is a country of agriculturists. You have to look into their problems… It is another matter that you are giving concession to corporates and the middle class...," the HC told the central government, while observing in the open court that its actions showed that the government was "anti-farmer".
Later, assistant solicitor general Chetan Mittal make a sudden appearance after information was passed on about the hearing and the HC lambasting the central government and sought a week's time from the court to file a reply on the issue. The HC gave him two weeks' time and told him to consider the plight of farmers sympathetically, fixing the next date of hearing for March 19.
The court was hearing a petition which alleged that government agencies were not procuring agricultural produce from farmers at the MSP, due to which they were incurring huge losses. The petitioner's counsel, JS Toor, had submitted that 65 lakh quintals of maize reached state mandis last year, of which only 31,000 quintals were procured by state agencies under the MSP scheme.