The Supreme Court on Monday said farmers committing suicide in the country was a serious issue and the Centre should deal with the real issues which force them to take the extreme step.
A bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and SK Kaul said that the Centre should file the proposed line of action to be adopted by the state governments for dealing with the issue.
“Farmers committing suicides is a serious issue. You (Centre) should bring the proposed policy dealing with all the real issues which force the farmers to take extreme step. We are with you. You should crystalise on four-five real issues which deal with the farmers and try to address these,” it said.
Additional solicitor general PS Narasimha said that the government is coming up with a comprehensive policy in which it would deal with all the issues which farmers face at the ground level.
He said that now the government is directly procuring food grains from the farmers at the minimum support price and they do not need to take help of the middlemen or market.
The ASG said that for crop loss or crop failure, the government is extending compensation and a new mechanism has been put in place for the purpose.
“Insurance cover has been increased for the farmers. Earlier, it was for those who took agriculture loan but now it has been extended to all the farmers,” he said.
Noting that as per a study, the farmers who commits suicide have no backup, Narasimha said that now farmers are being encouraged to adopt alternative sources of income.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for NGO Citizens Resource and Action and Initiative, said that over 3000 farmers have committed suicide in the last few years and the proposed policy should deal with all those real issues which affect the them.
The bench then told Gonsalves that after the policy comes and is implemented and if still anything remains which according to him needs to be done, then the court will accord him a hearing.
The affidavit of the ministry of agriculture had submitted that out of a total of over one lakh suicides in the country in 2013, farmer suicides were recorded at 8.7%.
It referred to data maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) as per which the number of suicides by persons self-employed in farming/agriculture in 2009 was 17,368 which had come down to 11,772 in 2013.
It had submitted that as against the total population of 122 crore (estimated) during 2013, the total number of suicides in the country was 1,34,799, of which suicides under the category of self-employed (farming/agriculture) was 11,772 which is 8.73% of total suicides.