Allahabad: The Allahabad High Court has asked the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government to file affidavits "indicating the extent to which benefits have been distributed" under various schemes to "alleviate the distress of farmers" in the impoverished Bundelkhand region.
Hearing a PIL on farmers` suicide in Bundelkhand, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Dhananjay Yeshwant Chandrachud and Justice Dilip Gupta also asked the State Bank of India and Allahabad Bank to apprise the court of "any waiver, re-structuring or rescheduling of loans" that may have been granted to the farmers.
In the order dated November 27, the court also sought details of "the terms on which such relief has been granted and the extent to which benefits have been allowed to the borrowing farmers".
The court granted four weeks` time to the Centre, the state government and the banks for filing of affidavits and posted the matter for January 6, 2014 for the next hearing.
"Once these affidavits are filed, the court can assess whether the action of the lending institutions is in accordance with the master circulars issued by the Reserve Bank of India and whether any further direction of the court would be necessary to protect the interests of the farmers in the region," the Division Bench said.
The court made the aforesaid observation in the light of the RBI`s submission that it had issued "master circulars" on July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2013 "laying down guidelines for relief measures to be taken by banks in areas affected by national calamities".
Significantly, the PIL had come into being vide an order dated June 15, 2011 wherein a Division Bench of the court had taken suo moto cognisance of a newspaper report relating to "large-scale suicides of farmers in the Bundelkhand region".