The Madras High Court ordered private mills to pay a due amount of rupees 220 crore to sugarcane farmers. As per the court order, 16 private sugar mills, including EID Pari, Sakthi Sugars, Rajashri, Dharani, Bannari Amman, Kothari, Ponni, Thiramandakudi Aarooraan, Pennadam Ambika, should pay rupees 220 crore to sugarcane farmers who supplied cane during 2004-05 & 2008-09 to these mills. The judgement will benefit more than one lakh farmer households that cultivate sugarcane.
The genesis of the legal battle goes back to 29 writ petitions filed by the Tamil Nadu Sugarcane Farmers’ Association in 2015 demanding their legitimate share as per profit sharing formula between farmers and sugar mills. The Madras High Court passed a favourable judgement and 13 cooperative and public sector sugar mills had distributed ₹98 crore to the farmers. However, the politically powerful private sugar mill owners refused to adhere to the court order and distribute the due amount.
Consequently, the Tamil Nadu Sugarcane Farmers’ Association approached the Single Bench of Madras High Court, leading to a court order on 13.02.2019 (W.A.No.1850 of 2019) ordering the private sugar mills to fulfil their obligation of paying the due amounts to sugarcane farmers as per the Act. Despite an appeal by the South India Sugar Manufacturers’ Association (SISMA) in an order delivered on October 19, 2023 the Madras High Court Bench, comprising Justice B Krishnakumar & Justice Balaji, upheld the previous order, dismissing SISMA's petition and instructing implementation.
"The spirit of the order reiterates that the intent of the legislation (Sugarcane Control Act, 1966) was to ensure due share to the primary producers of sugar. However, the All India Sugarcane Farmers’ Federation condemns the delay in justice, emphasising that by prolonging the case, the capitalist lobby controlling private sugar mills is denying justice. The delay of justice transcends mere temporary postponement; rather, it is an action in process with long-term and irreversible implications," Federation President D.Ravindran and General Secretary N.K.Shukla said in a statement.
They said the militant political struggle comprising mass rallies, Assembly picketing, factory picketings and collectorate demonstrations withstood police repression and ignited the spirit of the peasantry.
The Federation demanded the Tamil Nadu State Government and State Sugar Department to immediately implement the Madras High Court order.
It noted that the High Court order is applicable to similar cas