Kurki

Kurki

 

Why is it news?: A 65-year-old farmer, Balwinder Singh, died by suicide outside the office of the Muktsar DC on August 29, protesting against kukri.

What is the “kurki”?

  • Kukri is the attachment of marginal/small farmers’ land by banks or sahukar/ traders (commission agents and private money lenders) in the event of nonpayment of loan or debt.
  • It is a hoary practice for farmers to take debt from different agencies, including banks and money lenders. also, attach their land as collateral.

  What happens when a farmer fails to pay the loan?

  • In the event of non-repayment of the loan, the land pledged by the farmers gets registered in the name of the bank or the individual through the court order 
  • In some cases, the land is auctioned as well. The process begins after the money lender moves court to get kurki orders in case the farmer cannot pay back his loan. In kurki, the attachment of the farmer’s land and tractor can be done as per Section 60 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
  • Akali Dal and Congress governments claimed to have banned kurki.
  • Congress fought the 2017 Assembly polls on the slogan ‘karza kurki khatam, fasal di poori rakam’.
  • Accordingly, after the formation of Congress  government, it declared the abolition of kukri by issuing a notification on July 21, 2017. The government abolished Section 67-A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act which enabled cooperatives to recover unpaid loans through auctioning of land mortgaged by farmers. However, Sections 63-B and 63-C of the Act were not dropped to prevent the attachment of land.

 

Kukri is still practiced in Punjab, the ground reality?

  • In 2017, the total agricultural debt in Punjab was pegged at Rs 85000 crore. Out of which total loan to farmers including marginal and small growers was Rs 72,700 crore.
  • The main drawback of this notification was that it covered only cooperative banks and does not cover commercial banks and private money lenders 
  • Loans from cooperative banks from only 10-15% there are, therefore, obtaining decrees from the courts to attach the lands of defaulting farmers.
  •  In 2019, it was in the news that banks are also using dishonored post-dated cheques 6aken from farmers against their loans to initiate a criminal case against defaulters. 
  • A plea filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2018 sought a complete ban on kurki.
  • In spite of that, the Punjab government in its affidavit stated that there was no need to ban kurki as relief was being given to farmers in terms of loan waiver, compensation, etc. Moreover, it stated that Section 60 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 – under which kurki takes place — was over 110 years old and needed complete revision.

Way forward:

  • There are numerous cases where farmers have repaid twice or thrice the amount taken on loan.
  • Experts want the strict implementation of the Sir Chhotu Ram formula that is The loan taken by farmers who have paid as much interest as the principal amount borrowed to be waived completely; Debt conciliation boards to be set up in each district ; Centre to share the financial burden with the state
  • Sir Chhotu Ram formula also bans the interest and repayment of loans to be more than twice the principal amount this will help in ending the majority of kukri cases.

Plutus IAS current affairs eng med 5th Sep 2022

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