Taking note of the agrarian crisis, the Bombay high court has asked the banks to "stay alive" to the problems faced by farmers and immediately grant them fresh loans. The court has asked banks to ensure that farmers, who had benefited from the Maharashtra government's loan waiver scheme, should be able to procure loans without furnishing a 'no-dues pending' certificate.A bench of Justices Sanjay Gangapurwalla and Shrikant Kulkarni said, "We hope and trust that banks would be alive to the problems of the farmers. The precarious condition of the farmers has been considered by the state, which then introduced loan waiver scheme 2019."
"Though, the loan is waived, farmers or the beneficiaries of the said loan waiver scheme cannot be deprived of the crop loan for the kharif season 2020 on technical grounds. The loan waiver scheme is unambiguous and would apply to all the short-term crop loans availed of by the farmers from April 2015 to March 2019," the judges added.
The judges further held that the banks aren't authorised to impose any sort of conditions on farmers for obtaining loans.
The bench was seized with a PIL highlighting the conduct of the banks, which have been denying fresh loans to farmers. The banks have been insisting that farmers pay interest on their earlier loan amounts. However, in an interim order, the judges had ordered banks not to insist on this.
This time, the farmers highlighted before the judges, how banks were asking them to furnish a 'no-dues pending' certificate from cooperative societies, of which the farmers were members.
"The year 2020 has been a tumultuous year. The entire country is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, this year the state witnessed timely rains and it is necessary that the farmers get financial assistance for the kharif sowing season," the judges observed.
"We hasten to add that when the government introduces a beneficial scheme such as the present loan waiver scheme of 2019, all the stakeholders are required to adhere and implement the scheme in its true letter and spirit. The banks shall take steps to implement the scheme in its right perspective and should take steps to ensure that it is implemented without delay and ought not to be an impediment in effective implementation of the scheme," Justice Gangapurwalla said in his orders, adding that the condition of furnishing a 'no-pending dues' certificate was not required and was delaying the disbursement of loans.