The Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court, while hearing an application for quashing of a case of cheating of farmers, observed that farmers had no resources to push for litigation, and also commented on the rising incidents of farmer suicides. This observation of the court comes at a very crucial point as farmers protesting the capital are raising similar concerns of being exploited by corporates and them not having avenues of legal redressal, among other things.
The bench comprising Justices T.V. Nalawade and M.G. Sewlikar was hearing criminal application filed by accused Mayur Khandelwal, Kailashchandra Khandelwal and Akil Husonoddin Shaikh who had been booked under charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust basis of a complaint filed by a woman, Saniya Qadri, who brokers trade of farm produce.
Saniya Qadri alleged that Mayur approached her with an offer to hand him the banana produce that she collected from farmers for more profits. She was assured of their contacts in the trading circuit and accordingly she collected banana produce from farmers promising them better prices. However, the accused failed to make payment and she was unable to give the promised price to the farmers. Qadri claimed that she was owed more than INR 2.8 crores.
She alleged that when she requested the accused to give the money that she promised the growers, they balked citing financial crunch and asked her to arrange the money, instead, saying they would pay up after a few days. Based on their word, she made payments to some farmers but the accused kept avoiding her thereafter, eventually prompting her to lodge a complaint with the police, reported Indian Express.
The counsel for the accused argued that they were in the transportation business and claimed that Qadri sold the bananas directly to the traders.
After hearing both parties, the court observed that the accused were involved in the transactions and had collected money as sale proceeds. The court also noted that there was material to make out the offence of misappropriation and also cheating.”
Justice Nalawade also stated, “Such instances are increasing day by day. It is unfortunate, but it is a fact that all the systems are not showing sensitivity towards the problems faced by the farmers. The farmers have no resources and they cannot afford indulging in litigation. This inability of farmers is used by traders, the applicants (in this case), to make money on the agricultural produce which farmers get after working hard.”
The bench also commented on increasing incidents of farmers’ suicides and such incidents of cheating were partly responsible for the same, while refusing to grant any relief to the accused.
The order may be read here.