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Petition

swaraj abhiyan

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Petition

  1. 1. SYNOPSIS That the Petitioner is filing the instant writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking intervention of this Hon’ble Court for providing necessaryrelief and compensation to farmers and other classes of citizens suffering from theharsheffects of second consecutivedrought year, which is snowballing and resulting in severe livelihood crisis, mass migrations, severe malnutrition, starvation deaths, fodder crisis for cattle, increasing debt-burden on farmers leading to intensification in farmers’ suicides. That the country experienced another drought (14% deficit rainfall) this monsoon during this year’s monsoon, further aggravating the situation caused by last years’ drought (12 deficit rainfall) and the extensive damage to Rabi crop early this year. This was only the third time in the last century when the country experienced consecutive droughts. The drought this year affected 39% area of the country. The deficient rainfall has continued post-Monsoon, with 29 out of 36 sub-divisions reporting scant or deficient rainfall upto 12.12.2015, which has affected sowing of the next crop. That the fact of drought is admitted by the Union of India and various states.Eight states of the Union have already oficiallydeclared a state of drought.Union government has confirmed to the parliament that it has information from
  2. 2. seven states about drought affecting 1.9 crore hectare land. That when a drought affects the food security and livelihood support systems beyond the level of community resilience is known to be a disaster. That the present drought qualifies to be a disaster. That the Petitioner organisation carried out a SamvedanaYatra across nine states from 2nd to 15th October this year to assess the ground situation resulting from the drought. The Petitioner organisation also conducted an independent survey in 108 representative villages in the severely affected Budelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh which shows alarming figures: 39% families had not consumed dal even once in the last 30 days, 60% had not consumed any milk and 14% admitted going to bed hungry at least once during this period; 40% families had to resort to distress sale of their cattle, 24% had to mortgage or sell their land and 79% had to eat roti or rice with just salt of chutney at some point since the crop failure around Holi this year.This has been confirmed subsequently by various media reports. Similar reports are beginning to emerge from other states as well. The Petitioner organisation wrote letters to Chief Ministers of various states to request urgent action on drought relief.
  3. 3. That while some of the respective governments have admitted the fact of drought, they have failed to redress the misery of this vast population, they have even failed to properly implement the existing schemes that could have provided support during this period of distress. All but 2 states have not implemented the National Food Security Act, resulting in the failure to provide adequate foodgrainsthrough the Public Distribution System at this hour of crisis. The total number of person days employment generated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme has actually gone down during this drought period, when it was needed most.States have not followed the relief work required under their own drought manual.Not a single state has as yet paid any relief or compensation for Kharifcrop loss;most of the respective governments have failed to fully pay for the crop losses during previous Rabi crops; insurance schemes have benefitted only a tiny fraction. State governments do not have adequate funds to handle this disaster and the Government of India does not follow any transparent method to provide funds for this purpose.
  4. 4. LIST OF DATES 30.09.2015 Indian Meteorological Department had already predicted a rain deficit year in the respondent states. Media started reporting extensive crop loss and human suffering in various states of the country. 2.10.2015 Petitioner Organization started a SamvednaYatra across various states affected by the drought and take account of the actual ground situation. 26.10.2015 Concluding that the Bundelkhand region being heavy affected by the drought, the Petitioner Organization began an independent drought assessment survey (fieldwork completed on 7.11.2015, report released on 25.11.2015) in said region, which has shown alarming human sufferings. 19.11.2015 Government of India admits drought conditions in 10 states and invited memorandums for drought assistance from remaining 6 states Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Telagana and Andhra
  5. 5. Pradesh, memorandum were already received from Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh andMaharashtra. 26.11.2015 Center for Science and Environment released aassessment report on the impacts of extreme weather events on the agricultural sector and lacunae in existing crop-loss estimation, relief and compensation mechanism. 03.12.2015 Media report appeared on Scroll (online news portal) highlighting famine like conditions in Bundelkhand region. 05.12.2015 Government of India informs RajyaSabha that it has official confirmation of drought in 7 states affecting 1.9 crore hectares of land. 08.12.2015 Detailed media report appeared on NDTV News Channel and Scroll (online news portal) confirming that Sahariya tribe people in Bundelkhand, have been forced to eat rotis made of grass due to the prevailing famine like situation. 10.12.2015 Inconclusive discussion in the LokSabha on the drought situation across the country, despite this human suffering in the region still continues.
  6. 6. 14.12.2015 Hence the instant Writ Petition. IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. ______OF 2015 UNDER ARTICLE 32 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA IN THE MATTER OF: SwarajAbhiyan Through its General Secretary S/O: R/O: Ph: Email: ... PETITIONER VERSUS 1. Union of India, Through Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, KrishiBhawan, Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi-110001 2. State of Uttar Pradesh Through its Chief Secretary, LalBahadur, ShastriBhavan, UP Secretariat, Lucknow-226001. 3. State of Madhya Pradesh Through its Chief Secretary, VallabhBhavan, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh-462003 4. State of Karnataka Through its Chief Secretary, 3rd Floor, R. No. 320, VidhanSauda, Secretariat, Bangalore-560001 5. State of Andhra Pradesh Through its Chief Secretary, Secretariat Building Hyderabad-500 001
  7. 7. 6. State of Telangana Through its Chief Secretary, NTR Marg, Central Secretariat, Khairatabad, Hyderabad, Telangana 500004 7. State of Maharashtra Through its Chief Secretary, Room No.518, 5th Floor Main Building Mantralaya Mumbai-400032 8. State of Gujarat Through its Chief Secretary, Block No.1, 3rd floor New Sachivalaya Complex, Gandhinagar-382010 9. State of Orissa Through its Chief Secretary, Secretariat, Bhubaneshwar- 751001 10. State of Jharkhand Through its Chief Secretary, Jharkhand Secretariat, Ranchi, 834001 11. State of Bihar Through its Chief Secretary, Old Secretariat, Patna - 800015 12. State of Haryana Through its Chief Secretary, Haryana Secretariat, Chandigarh -160 001 ... RESPONDENTS WRIT PETITION IN PUBLIC INTEREST UNDER ARTICLE 32 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA FOR ENFORCEMENT OF RIGHTS UNDER ARTICLES 21 AND 14 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA SEEKING IMMEDIATE AND NECESSARY RELIEF AND COMPENSATIONFOR THE DROUGHT AFFECTED CITIZENS OF 11 STATES. To, THE HON’BLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA AND HIS COMPANION JUDGES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
  8. 8. NEW DELHI The humble petition of the Petitioner above named: MOST RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH:- 1. That the Petitioner is filing the instant writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking intervention of this Hon’ble Court for providing necessaryrelief and compensation to farmers and other classes of citizens suffering from theharsh effects of second consecutivedrought year, which is snowballing and resulting in severe livelihood crisis, mass migrations, severe malnutrition, starvation deaths, fodder crisis for cattle, increasing debt-burden on farmers leading to intensification in farmers’ suicides. 1A. That the PetitionerOrganisation is a unregistered organisation formed to strengthen the quest for 'Swaraj' within the Constitutional order, which involves “Equitable and sustainable access to well-being for all”. Towards this objective, the Abhiyan has launched a movement “Jai KisanAndolan” for highlighting the plight of the farmers and mobilizing them for collective action towards theirbetterment. More than a dozen farmers organisations have joined Jai KisanAndolan to pursue farmers’ issues. The Organisation has organised a March to the parliament in August 2015 and then a SamvednaYatra
  9. 9. across the drought affected districts in 9 states in October 2015. 2. The Petitioner Organisation has no personal interest, or private/oblique motive in filling the instant petition. There is no civil, criminal, revenue or any litigation involving the Petitioner Organisation which has or could have a legal nexus with the issues involved in the Present Public Interest Litigation.It is in public interest and this would not cause any injury to the public. The Petitioner Organisations has no annual income. 3. The petitioner had sent letters to Chief Ministers of various respondent states suggesting specific action thatcould alleviate the suffering. 4. BRIEF FACTS OF THE CASE: 4.1. That Indian Meteorological Department published various maps predicting raining deficit in various parts of the country including the respondent states. Media reports also started surfacing about the dry spell. Copy of various maps predicting deficient rains in respondent states has been annexed as ANNEXURE-P1 (Page no to ). 4.2 That the fact of drought is admitted by the Union of India and various states. Eight states have already officially declared a state of drought. The states of Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana have not yet declared a drought despite recording rainfall deficit of 28%, 14% and 38% respectively. Union
  10. 10. government has confirmed to the parliament that it has information from seven states about drought affecting 1.9 crore hectares. This figure could go up as other states declare drought and submit memorandum for support from NDRF.Besides, there are drought affected districts in states like Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan that are not on the whole drought-hit. Copy of the media report dated 5.12.2015 has been annexed as ANNEXURE-P2 (Page no. to ) 4.3 The drought has led to extensive crop damage, the same has been acknowledged in the discussions in LokSabha on 11.12.2015. Situation caused by extensive damage to Rabi crop in the month of March 2015 as a result of hailstorm and unseasonal rains as worsened the life of individuals. This damaged crops is over 1.82 crore hectare. Centre for Science and Environment has estimated the crop loss of Rabi this year to be Rs 20,453 crores.There are no firm estimates of the recent loss caused by the drought, but it is safe to assume that since it involves more land, the losses would be well above that level. Copy of the relevant part of the report of Centre for Science and Environment has been annexed as ANNEXURE-P3 (Page no. to ). 4.4 That the Petitioner organisation carried out a SamvedanaYatra across nine states from 2nd to 15th October this year to assess the ground situation resulting from the
  11. 11. drought. The Petitioner organisation also conducted an independent survey in 108 representative villages in the severely affected Budelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh which shows alarming figures: 39% families had not consumed dal even once in the last 30 days, 60% had not consumed any milk and 14% admitted going to bed hungry at least once during this period; 40% families had to resort to distress sale of their cattle, 24% had to mortgage or sell their land and 79% had to eat roti or rice with just salt of chutney at some point since the crop failure around Holi this year.Copy of the Assessment report has been annexed as ANNEXURE-P4 (Page no to ). 4.5 This has been confirmed subsequently by various media reports, media reports appeared on Scroll (online news portal) showing that the situation in the region of Bundelkhand is becoming worse day by day, human sufferings have reached to highest echelons as on an average one households goes hungry ones a week.Copy of the media reports dated 03.12.2015 has been annexed as ANNEXURE- P5 (Page no to ). 4.6 That a detailed media report appeared on NDTV News Channel highlighting the plight of the people of Bundelkhand, who have been forced to grass due to the
  12. 12. prevailing situation and the government had failed to provide any respite to suffering masses of the Bundelkhand region. “…..The accompaniment is no less frugal: a basket of green leaves, which look like spinach, but is called samai, a kind of weed that grows along river banks. This is cooked, with a little water, into a sabzi. There is little to season it; a small dish of oil and salt is poured in towards the end.” Copy of the two Media report dated 12.12.2015 has been annexed as ANNEXURE-P6(Page no to ). 4.7. That a comprehensive article on Bundelkhand was again published by scroll (online news portal) exhaustively explaining the gravity of the situation existing in the region. Relevant para has been reproduced as follows: “…..Each year, the recurring drought brings more devastation. With every passing crop season, Bundelkhand gets by on a little less than before – to eat, earn and live on. Debt burden and farmer deaths are on the rise, while the water table continues to fall. Families are migrating out in search of a steady livelihood, but economic security remains elusive. Social structures in villages are crumbling, as all farmers – big, small, and marginal – suffer losses. More and more children are dropping out of schools. According to a recently held rapid survey of Bundelkhand, conducted by SwarajAbhiyan in 108 villages across the seven Uttar Pradesh districts, more than 80% of households surveyed are cutting down on consumption of dal and milk, 22% have withdrawn their children from schools, and 97% have reported
  13. 13. an increase in debt. The report also reveals that farmers are conducting distress sales of their cattle and land, and that the availability and quality of drinking water is decreasing. Bundelkhand households are going hungry at least once a week.” Copy of the media report of 08.12.2015 has been annexed as ANNEXURE-P7 (Page no. to ). 4.8. That detailed representations with suggestions to control and conquer the present drought situations in five of these states was forwarded by the members of the Petitioner Organization to Chief Ministers of respondent states. Copy of the letters have been annexed as ANNEXURE-P8 (Page no to ) 4.9 That the employments provided under MGNREGA is being mismanaged by the state, over the years the employment provided by the MGNREG Act is on decline. Copy of the employments provided during last three year is annexed as ANNEXURE-P9(Page no to ). 4.10 That despite this awareness of drought, crop loss and human misery, the Union and the States have not responded adequately to this disaster. There are many instruments available to government of India and to various state governments to respond to the drought. Each of the states has State Disaster Relief Fund and the Union of India has National Disaster Relief Fund for this purpose. Each of the states has their Drought/Famine Relief Code, usually a part
  14. 14. of the Revenue Code Book that spells out the relief work that a government must carry out in the eventuality of a drought. The National Food Security Act lays down the obligation of the state to provide food-grains through the Public Distribution System. And the MNREG Act provides for employment generation, especially in times of employment crisis like drought. Unfortunately, the governments have failed to utilize each of these adequately to respond to this emergency. 4.11 That State governments are expected to deal with the drought and all other such natural disasters with the help of State Disaster Relief Fund, mandated by the Finance Commission. However, these funds are so meger that these cannot meet even one of these contingencies. The total funds allocated for SDRF for all states for five years is about Rs. 61,000crores, which works out to about Rs. 12,000 crores per year for all states. But as noted above, the overall damage from this drought is likely to be well over Rs. 20,000 crores. This is when the states are expected to approach the Central government for National Disaster Relief Funds. But the funds remain inadequate and the process of allocation non-transparent. This is well documented by the CSE in its report on the Rabi crop losses this year. 4.12 That a key challenge during this period is food availability. The National Food Security Act 2013 places obligation on the
  15. 15. state to provide 5 Kg of food-grains to each person in the family per month. Unfortunately, most states have not yet implemented this. Except Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the states have stuck to the previous PDS schemes that fall short of the NFSA obligations. Research shows thatthe APL/BPL distinction used by most of the states is useless and that the implementation of NFSA has had positive outcomes for these two states. Besides, the rising price of daal has made it unaffordable for the poor and there is a need to provide at least 2 kg of daal per family per month and egg for schoold going children through the Mid-Day Meal scheme and for children below 6-years through the Integrated Child Development Services. Copy of the article of Jean Dreze and ReetikaKhera has been annexed as ANNEXURE-P10 (Page no to ). 4.12 That the drought has led to severe decline in farm employment available to the rural poor. This is when MNREG Act can be of great help in generating employment. Therefore it is the duty of the governments to provide additional employment during the drought period. However the available evidence shows the contrary, that actually the number of person days of employment offered under MNREGS actually went down from 220 crore person days in a normal year 2013-14 to 166 crore person days in the drought year 2014-15 and is now down to merely 122 crore
  16. 16. person days in 2015-16 so far. If we compare the drought affected states, the employment generation is down from 96 crore person days in 2013-14 to 67 crore person days in 2014-15 to just 48 croroes in 2015-16 so far. (Annexure- P10, all data from official website http://mnregaweb4.nic.in). Clearly the governments have failed to use MNREG Act to generate employment when it mattered most. Copy of data 4.13 So far no government has provided any compensation or relief to the farmers for crop loss during this drought. They cannot, for the existing system of crop loss is outdated, slow, arbitrary and full of corruption. The report “Lived Anamoly” by CSE brings out all that is wrong with the existing system of crop loss estimation, relief, compensation and insurance. This entire system needs drastic revision. The present Writ Petition is being filed on the following among other grounds: GROUNDS A. Because the Respondents have been highly negligent in performing their obligations and are causing enormous damage to the lives of the people due to their inaction, which isin contravention of the rights guaranteed under Articles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India.
  17. 17. B. Because the Respondents have abdicated their constitutional obligation under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which makes it mandatory for the Respondents to ensure the right to life of the citizens which includes the right to live with dignity with atleast two square meals a day; C. Because in accordance with the standard laid down by the respondents themselves under the MGNREG Act, 2005, open handed employment of 150 days at the legal minimum wage for all willing to avail in the drought affected areas or to be provided which the respondents have failed to provide; D. Because the Respondents have failed to implement the National Food Security Act, 2013 whose very purpose is to provide food security means and make available sufficient food-grains to meet the domestic at affordable prices. E. Because the Respondents have failed in discharging their responsibilities by not utilizing the resources available for the purposes of drought relief, prevention of starvation and alleviation of misery; F. Because in a welfare State primary duty of the government is to secure the welfare of the people. Article 21 imposes an obligation on the State to safeguard the right of life of every person. Preservation of human life is thus of paramount importance. The State cannot avoid its constitutional obligation in that regard on account of financial constrains.
  18. 18. G. Because the abdication of duties by the Respondents is in total violation and abject disregard of the principles laid down by this Hon'ble Court in the case of PaschimBangalKhetMazdoorSamity and others Vs State of West Bangal reported 1996(4) SCC 37. H. Because the Respondents have ignored the principles let down by this Honble Court in Chameli Singh Vs State of UP reported in 1996(2)SCC State 549 wherein it was held that “…. In any organised society, right to live as a human being is not ensured by meeting only the animal needs of man. It is secured only when a man is assured of all facilities to develop himself and is freed from restrictions which inhibit his growth. All human rights are designed to achieve this object. Right to life guaranteed of any civilized society implies the right to food, water, shelter, education, medical care and a decent environment. These are basic human rights known to any civilized society. The civil, political, social, and cultural rights enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights and convention or under the Constitution of India cannot be exercised without these basic human rights….” I. Because the Respondents have ignored the fact that the right to life includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, viz., the bare necessaries of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter over the head and facilities for reading, writing, and expressing
  19. 19. oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and commingling with fellow human beings as held by the this honourable Court in FarcisCoralie Mullin versus Union of territory of Delhi reported in 1981(1) SCC, 608; J. Because the respondents have adopted an un-scientific method of tackling the predicted situation of drought and not taking appropriate steps to fight the human suffering, which amounts to abdication of their constitutional duty and therefore, this Hon’ble Court may compel them to take suitable measures on a war-footing. PRAYERS In the aforesaid facts and circumstances it is most respectfully prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to: a) Issue any writ or direction, directing the Respondent no.8, 11 and 12 to declare a drought in their respective states and provide immediate essential relief and compensation to their people to tackle the present natural calamity. b) Issue any writ or direction, directing the Respondents to provide adequate and timely compensation for crop loss and input subsidy for the next crop to the farmers affected by drought. c) Issue any writ or direction, directing the Respondents to immediately make available and make timely payment for
  20. 20. employment of 150 days under the MGNREG Act to the drought affected people. d) Issue any writ or direction, directing the Respondents to immediately make available food-grains as specified under National Food Security Act, 2013 to all the rural people in drought affected areas irrespective of any classification such as APL/BPL. e) Issue any writ or direction, directing the Respondents to immediately make available milk or egg to all the children covered by Mid-Day Meal Scheme or Integrated Child Development Scheme to rural people in drought affected areas. f) Issue any writ or direction, directing the Respondents to provide subsidized cattle fodder for animals in the drought affected areas. g) Issue any writ or direction, directing the Respondents to restructure crop loans for damaged crops and other debts of farmers in the drought affected areas. h) Issue any writ or direction to the Respondent no.1, to formulate uniform standard rules for the purpose of declaration of drought. i) Issue any writ or direction, directing the respondents to fix fair, objective and transparent package for crop loss compensation.
  21. 21. j) Issue any writ or direction, directing the Respondent no. 2-12, toformulate Integrated Water Policy in their respective states so as to prepare for any future drought k) Pass any such order or writ as this Hon’ble Court may deem fit or proper in the present circumstances. FILED BY PRASHANT BHUSHAN ADVOCATE FOR THE PETITIONER DRAWN BY: DRAWN AND FILED ON: .12.2015
  22. 22. IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION I.A. ____/2015 IN WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. ___ OF 2015 IN THE MATTER OF: SwarajAbhiyan ...PETITIONER Versus UNION OF INDIA & ORS ...RESPONDENTS APPLICATION ON BEHALF OF PETITIONER SEEKING INTERIM RELIEF To, The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India And his companion Judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India MOST RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH:- 1. That the Petitioner is filing the instant writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking intervention of this Hon’ble Court for providing necessary relief and rehabilitation to the residents of Bundelkhand region from the harsh effects of second consecutive drought years, which his snowballing and resulting in severe livelihood crisis, mass migrations, starvation deaths, malnourishment cases, increasing debts on farmers and further leading to farmer suicides.
  23. 23. 2. That the Petitioner Organisation has a very good case and there is every possibility of succeeding in this case and if during the pendency of the present Writ, interim relief as prayed for is not granted the Public of Bundelkhand region would suffer. 3. That the petitioner has not filed any other Writ petition same or similar to the present writ petition, neither in this Hon’ble Court or in any other Court or forum across the land. PRAYER It is therefore most respectfully prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to:- a. Pass any order or direction, appointing committee of Commissioners to take an account of the situation and recommend necessary measures on war-footing. b. Pass any order or direction, directing the Respondents to immediately supply proper quantities of grains, pulses and sugar through the public distribution system to the people in BPL and APL category alike as per National Food Security, Act 2013; c. Pass any Order or direction for providing additional quota of 2 kg of lentils per Ration Card in the drought affected district; d. Pass any order or direction for providing200 gm of milk or an egg per day in the Mid-Day Meal scheme in the drought affected region. e. Pass any order or direction for temporarily banning use of water for irrigating of sugarcane fields and other similar water consuming crops, factories and plants.
  24. 24. b. Pass any such order or writ as this Hon’ble Court may deem fit or proper in the present circumstances. a. New Delhi Filed by:- Dated: . .2015 (PrashantBhushan) Counsel for the Petitioner

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