Maharashtra Farmer sues traders under the new Farm Reform Laws; gets dues cleared
A farmer from Maharashtra has become the first person to invoke the recently enacted farm reform laws. The farmer sued two traders for not clearing his outstanding dues of Rs. 2.85 lakhs.
The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, one of the laws passed in September to free up agricultural trade in the country, makes it compulsory for buyers to pay cultivators "within three days" of a transaction.
The maize cultivator – Jitendra Bhoi took recourse to the law to get his dues cleared from two traders who had bought maize from Bhoi in the month of July. The traders had paid a token payment of Rs. 25,000 and had promised to pay the rest of the amount within 15 days.
After a delay of four months, he took legal recourse following which the Sub-Divisional Magistrate issued orders to the traders to make the payment for the farm produce within seven days.
Simply put, in case of payment disputes between a farmer and a trader in new free markets provided for by the recent laws, a magistrate must settle the transaction row within a month.
Acting on the farmer's complaint, authorities traced the traders, summoning them on October 6. They faced prospects of criminal action, including arrest. "After studying the case, listening to the farmer, and going through documents, it has been ordered by me that the buyers must make immediate payments owed to the farmer," the magistrate's closure report filed before collector Shivraj Singh Verma on November 5 said.
According to Section 8 of The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, "The Sub-Divisional Authority shall decide the dispute or contravention under this section in a summary manner within thirty days from the date of its filing and after giving the parties an opportunity of being heard…"
Farmers in some states, especially Punjab, are protesting the farm laws, fearing that these could erode their bargaining power and create a monopoly for big firms in the long run.
The new law will promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations, and is considered to be a historic-step in unlocking the vastly regulated agriculture markets in the country.