HC seeks info on beneficiaries of loan waiver scheme from Maharashtra

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Maharashtra government to furnish details about number of farmers who had so far benefited from Mahatma Jyotirao Phule farm loan waiver scheme, which was announced in 2019.

A bench led by Justice K K Tated also asked the state to explain why the scheme had not been implemented in its entirety to cover all 35 lakh potential beneficiary farmers, as alleged by MLA Ashish Shelar in a public interest litigation (PIL).

In the PIL, Shelar claimed that around 35 lakh farmers, who had loan liabilities of up to Rs 2 lakh, were eligible to seek benefits of the above scheme.

However, so far, the state had extended the benefits of the scheme to only 15 lakh farmers, it was stated.

As per the scheme announced by the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, farmers who had taken bank loans of up to Rs 2 lakh between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2019, and had not repaid these loans till September 30, 2019, are eligible for a waiver on the entire amount.

In his plea, Shelar wished to know why all eligible farmers had not got the benefit of the scheme and said he had raised the question in the state Assembly on "numerous occasions".

"However, as he did not get a satisfactory answer, he approached the high court," Shelar's counsel Rajendra Pai told the court on Friday.

The state's counsel Geeta Shastri, however, argued that Shelar could have filed an RTI application to seek the above information and alleged that the plea was based solely on media reports.

The bench told advocate Pai that he "should have done some research of his own", but noted that the state must provide the required information.

The bench said that the state must also inform the court of "why only some farmers" had been given the benefit and directed the state to file its reply in three weeks.

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Free Press Journal