Cut subsidy, incentives to tobacco growers, HC tells State, Centre

The High Court on Monday directed the State and Central governments to bring out a policy to cut down the subsidy and other incentives provided to tobacco growers in
Karnataka.

Hearing a PIL petition by Cancer Patients’ Aid Society, seeking to stop subsidy to tobacco cultivation, a division bench comprising acting Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice Ram Mohan Reddy directed the government to bring out a policy to reduce the growing demand and consumption of tobacco.

The counsel for petitioners, Jeyna Kothari, brought to the bench’s notice the incentives and subsidy given to tobacco growers. She said the government being a signatory to an international convention cannot promote tobacco cultivation. “The government has an obligation to promote and protect public health under the Constitution of India. The country is a signatory to an international convention called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), since 2005,” she said.

She further submitted, “Under FCTC, the government is obligated to discourage the use and cultivation of tobacco, instead the government here is indirectly supporting tobacco cultivation by promoting it.”

Counsel for the Central government submitted that the Centre is considering the discontinuation of its support to tobacco farmers.

‘Discourage cultivation’

The bench observing that consumption of tobacco is harmful to human health, directed the State and the Centre to frame a policy to discourage its cultivation.

The bench directed the government to rehabilitate the tobacco farmers and beedi workers who will be affected with the stopping of subsidy and incentives. It also asked the government to suggest a crop in place of tobacco for the farmers.

However, the bench refused to stop the incentives and subsidy provided by the Tobacco Board for the best agricultural practice adopted by them. The bench also refused to allow two impleading applications citing that the farmers will be affected. The matter has been disposed of.

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