Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Mukesh R. Shah, CJ. and Ashutosh Kumar, J. while hearing a petition seeking mandamus against State for implementing organic farming policy, observed that efforts on the same were underway and dismissed the petition holding that the nature of petitioner’s prayers were that of a roving enquiry.

The instant public interest petition had been filed seeking a mandamus directing the respondent to encourage farmers of the State to opt for organic farming in order to save productivity of the earth and environment. Further, the petitioner also sought the details of the expenditure incurred for encouraging organic farming in the State as well as of the allocated subsidy amount for organic farming disbursed in various financial years since 2007-08.

The court noted that the averments in writ petition admitted that the State Government had taken a policy decision of encouraging farmers for undertaking organic farming, and for the aforesaid purpose, budgetary limits had been fixed and subsidies had been offered. The petitioners had not raised any allegation of siphoning of funds or embezzlement of public money. Thus, the prayers made in the writ petition were more in the nature of fishing and roving enquiry from the respondents, which is impermissible in public interest litigation.

The respondent’s submission before the court was that even though organic farming, being a labour-intensive exercise, is much more expensive owing to production cost being higher and less yield being produced per hectare; but still the State was using budgetary allocation to make the farmers aware of the advantages of using/ manufacturing vermi-compost and green manure. Setting up of gobar gas units was being encouraged by providing subsidy to the entrepreneurs for the said purpose.

Further, the State also submitted list programmes which had been initiated and the budgetary allocation as well as expenses incurred on “Organic Corridor Scheme” project launched in the year 2017-18. As a part of first phase, organic corridors had been developed in villages adjoining National/State highways running by the side of Ganga river. The process for certification of fields after elimination of chemical residue was afoot. Lastly, the State submitted that it was planning to implement the scheme at a larger scale by 2022; and the entire process of converting agricultural operations to organic method being a long drawn process, it would take a while before the results are visible.

Having regard to the detailed submissions made by the State and vague prayers in the petition, the High Court observed that the State was making efforts to achieve the objective of organic farming by 2022 and expecting results in such a short time would be chimerical. On that observation, the writ petition was dismissed. [Bihar Rajya Kishan Sabha v State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1808, decided on 09-10-2018]

NewsTreaties/Conventions/International Agreements

The Union Cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Iran for cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. The MoU was signed on 17-02-2018 during the visit of President of Iran to India. The MoU provides for cooperation in the areas of agricultural crops, agricultural extension, horticulture, machinery, post harvest technology, plant quarantine measures, credit and cooperation. It further provides for cooperation in soil conservation and water management, integrated nutrients management, seed technology and agricultural marketing. Also, livestock improvement, dairy development, animal health and other fields as mutually agreed upon fall within the scope of the MoU. Cooperation will also be effected through exchange of experts, materials and information, exchange of trainees and scientists on study visits/training programmes, facilitation of relevant conferences and workshops and any other means as may be mutually agreed upon. A Joint Working Group (JWG) will be formed to monitor the activities carried out in fulfillment of this MoU, with the meetings (of the ‘JWG’) to be alternately held in India and Iran once every 2 years. The MoU will be initially valid for 5 years and will be automatically extended for a subsequent period of 5 years unless either party notifies the other party of its intent of terminating it.

[Press Release no. 1524411, dt. 14-03-2018]

CABINET