No early hearing on petition on farm debt relief

March 3rd, 2008 - 10:39 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday refused an early hearing of a petition on the waiver of loans to farmers from private banks and moneylenders in line with the budgetary announcement of write-off of their loans from nationalised banks. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran said these issue have to be discussed by parliament.

As petitioner M.L. Sharma, an advocate, sought early hearing of his petition filed in the court registry Saturday, the bench said: “No preference can be given to it in hearing. Let it come in due course.”

The petition questioned the basis of the government’s budgetary figure of Rs.600 billion for writing off loans to small and marginal farmers.

Sharma contended that there was no such huge amount of farmers’ debts with the nationalised banks.

Prior to Feb 29, when Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presented his budget, there was no bank having any dead/sick agricultural loan in its balance sheet, the petitioner said.

“During the last five years, several banks have come up with their public issues and none of them had declared having any unrecoverable agricultural loans in their balance sheets,” the petition said.

In the absence of any concrete data to determine the exact amount, the petitioner said: “It is nothing more than an election fund under the garb of farmers’ loan waiver.”

The petitioner sought the court’s direction to keep politicians out of the distribution of funds under the waiver scheme.

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