The Supreme Court on Thursday rapped Tamil Nadu over farmers’ suicides and said it cannot leave the poverty-struck agriculturalists at the mercy of their fate.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra issued notice to the state government and sought its response within two weeks on the plea filed by Tamil Nadu Centre for Public Interest Litigation.
It also appointed advocate Gopal Shankar Narayan as the amicus curiae to assist it in the case.
“State stands on the position of a loco parentis to the citizens and when there are so many deaths of farmers in the state of Tamil Nadu, it becomes obligatory on the part of the state to express concern and sensitiveness to do the needful and not allow the impecunious and poverty stricken farmers to resign to their fate or leave the downtrodden and the poor to yield to the idea of fatalism.
“The concept is alien in the welfare State and the social justice which is required to be translated in a democratic body polity. As is manifest from the assertions and the grievances that have been agitated, deaths are due to famine backdrop and other natural causes and also due to immense financial problem. The State, as the guardian, is required to see how to solve these problems or to meet the problems by taking curative measures treating it as a natural disaster. Silence is not the answer,” the bench said.
The top court also asked the state government not to treat the plea filed by TNCPIL as an adversarial litigation and take up ameliorative measures to address the agony faced
by the farmers.
The bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar also asked the government to come up with certain schemes and measures before it.
“We say so as there is an expectation on the part of the citizens that the State shall come to their aid when such a catastrophe occurs and the State’s response must be in promptitude so that the gravity of the situation does not get a geometrical progression which may later on become difficult to handle,” it said.
During the hearing, the bench said that the issue depicted a picture “which has the potentiality to disturb the conscience of any sensitive soul” as it had its significance in a society where agriculture is of paramount importance and most of the farmers exclusively depend upon the same for their sustenance.
Before passing the order, the court made an oral observation and said that “It is the duty of the state to take care of its citizens and the situation of farmers are worrisome.”
The order came days after the farmers from the state had resorted to stripping outside Prime Minister’s Office to press for their demands of loan waiver and drought-relief package.
The farmers from the southern state have been demanding a drought relief package of Rs 40,000 crore, farm loan waiver and setting up of Cauvery Management Board by the Centre.
The drought-hit farmers have been protesting in the city adorning human skulls around their necks and eating rats, trying to grab the attention of the authorities towards their condition.