How many farmers benefitted from loan waiver: HC asks Maharashtra
The court has also sought an explanation as to why the scheme has not been implemented in its entirety for the 3.5 million beneficiary farmers as alleged in the PILUpdated: Sep 18, 2020, 13:31 IST
The Bombay high court, while directing Maharashtra to inform it how many farmers have benefitted from the Mahatma Phule Loan Waiver Scheme which was implemented in 2019, has also sought an explanation as to why the scheme has not been implemented in its entirety for the 3.5 million beneficiary farmers, as alleged by BJP leader and MLA Ashish Shelar in a public interest litigation.
Though the state opposed the PIL stating that the BJP leader had recourse to the Right to Information (RTI) Act to know the exact number of farmers who had benefitted from the scheme, the court directed it to file an affidavit enumerating the same and posted the PIL for hearing on October 15.
A division bench of justice J K Tated and justice N R Borkar, while hearing the PIL, was informed by senior counsel Rajendra Pai representing Shelar that though there were more than 15 million farmers in the state, the scheme was to benefit around 3.5 million lakh farmers who had a loan amount of up to Rs 2 lakh.
Pai informed the court that after it came to light through media reports that only around 1.5 million farmers had benefitted from the scheme since its implementation, Shelar had sought to know why all the beneficiary farmers had not got the benefit and hence raised the question in the state assembly on numerous occasions. However, as he did not get a satisfactory answer on the number of farmers benefitting from the scheme, he was left with no other option but to approach the court.
Additional government pleader Geeta Shastri however submitted that being an MLA Shelar, could easily have got the information by applying before the concerned department under the RTI Act and there was no need for him to approach the HC. She further added that the PIL was based on media reports and not actual figures which were available with the concerned department.
After hearing the submissions the court said that even though the figures quoted in the PIL were based on media reports, the state could inform the court and the petitioner as to the actual number of farmers who benefitted from the scheme since its implementation. It also directed the state to submit the same in an affidavit and allowed Shelar to file a rejoinder to the affidavit.