Tiptur APMC building: SC stays HC order on 10 lakh cost

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has stayed a Karnataka High Court order that imposed a whopping Rs 10-lakh cost on a group of farmers who had questioned the proposal for the construction of a new administrative building for the purpose of e-tendering for the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) at Tiptur in Tumakuru district.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose issued notice to the Karnataka government and others on a special leave petition filed by B S Devaraju and others.

The court sought a response from the state government as advocate Sanjay M Nuli, appearing for the petitioners, challenged the validity of the high court’s judgement of July 19, 2018. The top court had, in November last, dismissed a special leave petition filed against the same judgement by H B Diwakar, a member of the APMC, who was slapped with a Rs 5-lakh cost separately by the high court for being one of the petitioners.

In their plea, a group of 10 farmers contended that the high court had failed to take into account that a project had been proposed to splurge an approximate Rs 3.5 crore on a brand new administrative building and by estimates, it would be splurging an additional Rs 4 crore on the completion work.

The plot identified was the only arena available to conduct the weekly open auction of raw coconut, yearly agricultural exhibition (krushi mela) and other allied activities. Though the committee has an approved staff strength of 29 individuals, it currently operated with a permanent staff of just eight persons.

The petitioners claimed no funds were allocated for development of value-added products or byproducts like ‘neera’ or ‘kalparasa’, virgin coconut oil and ‘tentha oil’.

Crops such as areca, copra, mango, paddy, tamarind and pomegranate were being grown in Tumakuru district, which for reasons best known to the committee, have not been included in their trading activity. There was an urgent need for a multi-commodity market, which has been ignored, they contended.

The petitioners claimed the authorities had miserably failed in performing their statutory duties including setting up a model to trade agricultural produce to ensure that the farmers’ interest was protected and the right price was provided to them.

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