PIL in Allahabad High Court on sugarcane arrears; state to reply in four weeks
A PIL regarding the issue of non-payment of money to sugarcane farmers and revision of SAP has been filed in the Allahabad High Court. The High Court has issued notice to the state government and asked it to file a reply in four weeks.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Allahabad High Court “in the public interest and interest of farmers who are being deprived of their legitimate payments by the sugar mill owners in connivance with the State Government” of Uttar Pradesh (UP). The PIL has been filed by Puneet Kaur Dhanda. In her PIL she blames the government for failing to ensure timely payments to the farmers as well as for having “no settled and revised State Advised Price (SAP)”. She feels the pain all the more as these are the “testing times of pandemic”.
The PIL regarding the issue of non-payment of money to sugarcane farmers and revision of SAP was listed before Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice Piyush Agarwala on July 6. The petition no. WPCivil 965/2021 was listed at Item 17.
The High Court issued notice to the state government and asked it to file a reply in four weeks.
Says Vineet Dhanda, the advocate for the petitioner: "Hon'ble High Court was pleased to admit the petition and issued notice to the State. The petitioner has also been directed to implead certain parties. Four weeks' time has been granted to the state for a reply."
The petitioner dwells on the “suffering” of the farmers due to the “recklessness and callous attitude of State Government.” Sugar mill owners are inordinately delaying the payments to the sugarcane farmers in UP as the State Government is not ensuring timely payments to the farmers on the sale of their produce. This has led the farmers to be “on the edge”.
In order to strengthen her case, the petitioner cites several news articles. A newspaper article published on February 3 talks of “zero price” receipts given to farmers for 2021. Another article published on May 10 clearly mentioned that Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said that India's sugar exports are on a "good course" this year as traders have contracted over 50 lakh tonnes of the sweetener so far. Thus, despite the sugar mills reaping profits, the sugarcane farmers were kept deprived of their legitimate money.
The petitioner has also annexed a news report published in RuralVoice on May 16 with the caption “Sugarcane farmers’ dues cross Rs 12,000 crores in UP; record earnings for sugar mills” https://eng.ruralvoice.in/sugarcane-farmers-dues-cross-rs-12000-crores-in-up-record-earnings-for-sugar-mills and a news article published in RuralVoice on May 17 with the heading “Curious tale of sugarcane price payments by UP sugar mills; Malakpur mill makes zero payment to sugarcane farmers” https://eng.ruralvoice.in/curious-tale-of-sugarcane-price-payments-by-up-sugar-mills-malakpur-mill-makes-zero-payment-but-parsendi-995-per-cent .
A copy of the “Comparison Chart of Sugarcane Arrears of State of Maharashtra and State of UP” has also been annexed to the writ petition.
Using data from the sources mentioned above, the petitioner concludes that “the delay in payments to the sugarcane farmers and not revising of the State Advised Price as per today’s requirements is adding to the miseries and sufferings of the farmers.” Besides, the pandemic has made things only worse. It is on this basis that the petitioner asks the “Hon’ble Court” to intervene.
The counsel for the petitioner prays to the court to (i) issue a writ, order or direction including a writ in the nature of Mandamus directing the respondent authorities to release dues/payments of sugarcane farmers pending with the UP sugar mills for 2020-21 sugar season, which are to the tune of more than Rs 12,000 crore (approx. Rs 15,000 crore if you add the interest); (ii) issue a writ, order or direction including a writ in the nature of Mandamus directing the respondent authorities to increase the SAP; (iii) issue such order or direction as the court may deem “fit and proper”; and (iv) to award cost to the petitioner.