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Supreme Court issues notice on plea related to payment of Rs 18,000 crore dues of sugarcane farmers

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice on a petition seeking payment of pending dues of Sugarcane farmers, which had accumulated for years and came to Rs 18,000 crore at present.

The Bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and also comprising Justice Surya Kant, was hearing a plea seeking payment of pending dues to Sugarcane farmers and setting up of a mechanism to make the payment on time, in order to avoid accumulation of dues and save the farmers from the vicious cycle when a sugar mill is declared sick and their dues of sugarcane produce remain unpaid.

Senior Advocate Anand Grover, representing the petitioners, urged the Court to issue notice to the states on providing interim relief to the farmers. The apex court said it will look into the matter and listed the issue for further hearing after three weeks.

Earlier on July 6, 2021, the Allahabad High Court had pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government on non-payment of dues worth Rs 12,000 crore to sugarcane farmers in the state.

The Bench of Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice Piyush Agrawal had asked the state government to file a response within four weeks and listed the PIL for hearing on August 4.

On February 12, 2021, the apex court had issued notices to the Centre and 16 sugarcane-producing states on a plea seeking immediate release of Rs 15,683 crore dues in a time-bound manner to the farmers.

The bench, headed by then Chief Justice S A Bobde and also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, had decided to examine the issue after senior lawyer Sanjay Parikh explained that livelihood of over five crore farmers in the country and their dependents involved in cultivating sugarcane in an area of almost 50 lakh hectares was being impacted due to the delay in payment of dues.

Many farmers had even committed suicide over the matter, the petition had highlighted, while seeking a direction to the authorities to take action against defaulting sugar mills and registration of FIRs.

The plea had further said that a Committee of Expert be formed to study the problems of non-payment of dues by the sugarcane industries and make changes in the legal framework to ensure that no delay occurs in the payment of dues of farmers in future.

The top court had then issued notice to the states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Odisha, Goa, Telangana and Puducherry.

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