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SC questions Centre, states over policies for protecting farmers

The Supreme Court on Friday rapped the Centre and the states on the issue of farmers’ suicides in the country and asked them about the measures taken to provide crop-security to the farmers.

Taking suo-moto cognizance in the case, the apex court questioned the Centre and state authorities over the policies aimed at protecting the farmers from crop failures due to natural calamities and debts.

The apex court said that it was sad and unfortunate that many farmers were committing suicide because of crop failure and indebtedness, adding there was still no national policy in place to protect them.

An apex court bench had earlier in 2014 issued a notice to the Gujarat Government acting on a petition that sought compensation of Rs. five lakh for the families of 692 farmers, who reportedly committed suicide in the state between January 2003 and October 2012. They later converted this petition into a PIL and said that this would cover the entire country.

The Supreme Court had earlier this month issued notice to the Centre and seven states – West Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – seeking their response to a PIL demanding that lands acquired for special economic zones be returned to the farmers in case of non-utilisation.

In the last two decades, the number of suicides by the farmers in different parts of the country has been increasing at an alarming rate.

According to the newly released data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), farmer suicides rose by 42 percent between 2014 and 2015. While there were 5,650 suicides in 2014, the figure increased to 8,007 in 2015.