The Supreme Court today sought responses from the Centre, State Governments, Union Territory and the RBI to examine the likely reasons behind suicides by farmers.
A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana asked them to respond within four weeks.
The bench said that it is a “sensitive matter” of larger public interest involving farmers throughout the country. The court was hearing a plea filed by NGO Citizens Resource and Action and Initiative on issues related to farmers.
More than 72% of farmers who commit suicide have less than two hectares of land, latest data on farmer suicides compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show. According to the NCRB report for the year 2015, less than 2% of farmers who committed suicide were large farmers with more than 10 hectares of land. A hectare of land is roughly equivalent to 2.5 acres. Medium farmers, who have between 2 hectares and 10 hectares of land, contributed a fourth of the 8,007 farmer suicides in the country in 2015.
Supreme Court has termed this a sensitive because NCRB data shows that it’s not moneylenders, but banks and registered micro-finance institutions that have emerged as the prime reason behind India’s farmer-suicides. So far, local moneylenders are usually portrayed as the villains in India’s farmer-suicides narrative, but in 2015 the record suggest that 80 per cent of farmers killed themselves because of bankruptcy or debts after taking loans from banks and other finance companies.
According to NCRB data, 2474 out of 3000 farmers committed suicides due to debt and bankruptcy. This is for the first time that NCRB has categorized farmers’ suicides due to debt or bankruptcy based on the source of loans.