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HC raps Maharashtra for inaction against vendors who sold spurious soyabean seeds to farmers



The Bombay High Court has rapped the Maharashtra government for not taking action against vendors supplying spurious soyabean seeds to thousands of farmers that led to crop failure.

In an order of June 26 uploaded in the high court’s website on Friday, it said the Aurangabad bench of the court took suo motu cognizance of news reports about complaints of 2,000 farmers who had purchased soyabean seeds for sowing during the ongoing Kharif season but the seeds did not sprout and led to the farmers suffering losses. The court observed that though the farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha region are poor and such a fraud by the soyabean seed vendors was detrimental to their survival, the government did not show any haste in taking action against such vendors.

A division bench of justice T V Nalawade and justice D Kulkarni on June 26, heard the petition initiated after news reports that farmers from districts like Nanded, Latur, Parbhani, Hingoli and Ahmednagar had complained to the authorities that soybean seeds they purchased recently for sowing did not germinate. The court directed that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) be registered suo motu to ensure that action is taken against the shop owners and the companies, if any, who had pushed such bogus seeds in the market. The court appointed advocate P P More as Amicus Curiae to assist the court.

Referring to the stand taken in this regard by the minister for agriculture of the state on June 25 when he said that there are no provisions under the Seeds Act, 1966 for taking action against the vendors concerned and the state will try to see that farmers are given other seeds the court said, “It can be said that the Government, the concerned department has no intention to take criminal action against the vendors and producers of the bogus seeds, even when they have duped the farmers and they have caused huge loss not only to the farmers, but to the country.”

The court then observed that as farmers incurred huge expenses while sowing the seeds and such incidents occurred frequently the matters cannot be closed only by supplying more seeds to the farmers by the State. “This season is more peculiar as due to the pandemic of Covid-19 peculiar circumstances are created. These peculiar circumstances are used by the traders and so, the offence committed by them is more grave in nature,” the court observed.

It said that the failure of the seed inspector to take action against vendors supplying bogus seeds under section 420 of the IPC prompted it to pass directions to the state.

The court directed the state to provide details of the date and number of complaints received by the police, nature of complaints, action taken by seed inspector at tehsil level, number of routine visits to shops selling seeds and seizure and testing of seeds and number of similar complaints received by agriculture department in last five years.

The matter had been posted for hearing on July 3 but was adjourned to July 7.


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