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‘You don’t go after big fish but harass poor farmers’: SC to bank on one-time settlement scheme

New Delhi, May 16

The Supreme Court has pulled up the Bank of Maharashtra for challenging an order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court directing it to accept the One-Time Settlement (OTS) proposal of farmers and issue them sanction letters, saying the bank does not go after big fish but is only harassing poor farmers.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant took note of the High Court order and said there is nothing wrong with it and will not interfere with it.

“In the facts and circumstances of the present case, we are of the view that the direction of the High Court is eminently just and fair. Hence, it is not necessary for the Court to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution. The Special Leave Petitions are accordingly dismissed. However, the question of law is kept open to be dealt with in an appropriate case,” the bench said in its order passed on May 13.

During the hearing, the bench said, “You don’t go after big fish and only harass poor farmers, who have paid 95 per cent of the amount. These farmers took the loan and accepted the offer of quantified amount under the OTS scheme and deposited 95.89 per cent of Rs 36.50 lakh within the stipulated time.”

It told senior advocate Garima Prashad, appearing for the bank, that it cannot unilaterally enhance the compromise amount to Rs 50.50 lakh as this is against the principles of natural justice and irrational.

She said this will become a precedent and the question of law in the matter needs to be decided.

Justice Chandrachud said, “Such litigation in the Supreme Court will ruin the family of farmers financially. Sorry we would not like to interfere. We will leave the question of law open to be decided in the appropriate case.”

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