Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune | Updated: June 10, 2020 1:26:47 am
While hearing the petition filed by Siral, the court decided to convert it into a PIL and study the question of unsold cotton remaining with farmers. (File)
IN AN order that can have lasting implications, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has decided to step in to examine allegations against Cotton Corporation of India (CCI)of non-procurement of cotton from farmers.
A two-judge bench of Justice T V Nalawade and Justice Shrikant D Kulkarni decided to look into the allegations while hearing a writ interest filed by Tryambak Ganpatrao Siral. The court converted the case into a PIL but also allowed farmers to put forth grievances about the manner in which CCI procures cotton.
At the beginning of the monsoon, cotton growers in the state complained of substantial unsold kapas (raw unginned seed cotton), which they could not sell at minimum support price (MSP) to CCI. While farmers said close to 30 to 50 per cent of their produce went unsold, CCI has said around 14 lakh quintals still remain with farmers. The lockdown and the subsequent slow pace of reopening of wholesale mandis and labour issues at the ginning and pressing units also slackened the pace of cotton procurement in the state.
The monsoon, CCI and farmers have said, would increase moisture content of cotton and make it unsuitable for sale at CCI centres.
While hearing the petition filed by Siral, the court decided to convert it into a PIL and study the question of unsold cotton remaining with farmers. “Two days ago, there was heavy rain almost all over the state and this court can get as to what must have happened to the farmers’ cotton as they don’t have godowns,” the order read.
Allowing farmers to put forth their grievances about the procurement policy of cotton, the court assured that it will not disclose the names of the farmers. “This court is allowing grievances directly on the next date with 7/12 extracts and other documents, which they have and which show that they were compelled to sell cotton to private traders as it was not purchased by respondents and loss was caused to them. They may also put forth grievance with regard to the procedure followed by the respondents for purchasing cotton of the farmers,” the order read.
In the present system of procurement, Agricultural Procure Marketing Committees (APMC) issue tokens to farmers who want to sell their cotton at CCI’s procurement centres. Allegations have surfaced that traders have misused these orders. In its order, the court indicated that it wants an in-depth analysis of the situation.
Assuring protection to farmers, the court said farmers’ counsel need not file vakalatnama and can be heard as amicus curiae. The assistant government pleader has been asked to convey the order to the concerned.
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