A division bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and YG Khobaragade was hearing a batch of petitions by farmers raising a grievance that they had not been compensated for lands acquired from them by the state.
The Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court recently pulled up Maharashtra state revenue authorities for their apathy towards the plight of farmers after nothing their failure to compensate the farmers for their lands acquired for public projects [Vasudeo Sonu Patil & Ors v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.]
A division bench of Justice Ravindra Ghuge and YG Khobaragade was hearing a batch of petitions by farmers raising a grievance that they had not been compensated for their acquired lands.
It further added that granting farmers compensation out of pity was disrespectful not just to them, but also to humanity in general.
“If insensitivity is to be blinked at by this court, we are afraid that the rule of law will not prevail and there would not only be a travesty of justice but would result in a miscarriage of justice,” the bench said.
The Maharashtra government resolved on July 26, 2021, to compensate farmers who had entered into settlement awards at Lok Adalats.
Over 40 petitioners claimed that awards as back as 2019 had not been implemented.
The Court at the outset expressed its shock at the scant regard of the authorities for the binding orders passed in Lok Adalats and to the financial condition of farmers who lost their lands.
“When a fundamental right of a farmer to cultivate his land being a part of the right to livelihood is taken away, he ought to be compensated. A farmer’s life is a tale of continuous experimentation and struggle for existence. Mere words or a visual can never convey what is meant to live a life as an Indian farmer unless one experiences their struggle and their miseries,” the order stated.
The petitioners also requested the Court to consider the plight of thousands of other farmers, apart from the petitioners, who could not approach the High Court.
The Court agreed and echoed that they would be failing in their duties if the plight of the other identically placed farmers is not considered.
The acquiring authority told the Court that it was trying its best to collect funds.
However, the Court was not convinced by this “farcical act”.
“A mirage is created to hold out assurances to the farmers that their payments would be made. This is merely an illusion. Such conduct of authorities, if ignored, would cause starvation and penury, practically leading to tremendous unrest amongst such farmers”, the court opined.
It, therefore, passed a slew of directions to the acquiring authorities and revenue authorities:
- Clear the dues of over 40 petitioners within 45 days;
- State government to ensure that all those farmers, who have entered into settlements in Lok Adalats from 2017 are paid their awarded compensation within 90 days;
- State to strictly implement the 2021 resolution of paying compensation to farmers, who have entered into Lok Adalat settlements, within 180 days;
- If the State fails to implement the government resolution, the interest component will be paid from the salaries of officers responsible for the delay in payments.
Source: Bar & Bench