Sunday, November 11, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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And now, fertiliser scam
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
In yet another scam in the agrarian sector, Agriculture Department employees, after conniving with dealers and manufacturers of sub-standard fertilisers and insecticides, are allowing them to go scot-free by ensuring the failure of prosecution on technical grounds.

The modus operandi is not so complicated. The inspectors send the samples of insecticides and fertilisers to the state laboratory for analysis soon after collecting these. Once the report is received describing the sample as sub-standard, they promptly issue a show-cause notice.

In reply, the defaulter seeks analysis of a second sample. The authorities, however, file a complaint, but not till the shelf-life of the sample has expired. A petition is subsequently filed by the defaulters seeking quashing of the proceedings on the ground that the second sample had not been analysed. In the light of a Supreme Court judgement, the accused are acquitted.

Taking a serious view of the matter, Mr Justice H.S. Bedi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a verdict delivered recently, observed: “It has come to the notice of the Court that in a very large number of matters, the employees of the department concerned either deliberately or due to negligence ensure that the prosecution fails on technical grounds”.

Coming down heavily on the authorities, Mr Justice Bedi observed: “This is wholly uncalled for and requires to be rectified. It is common knowledge that the farmers in the state of Punjab and Haryana have suffered enormous expenses and losses on account of the supply of sub-standard insecticides, pesticides, fungicides and seeds being supplied by the unscrupulous dealers and manufacturers, who are manipulating the government agencies”.

The Judge also directed that a copy of the judgment should be sent to the Chief Secretaries, besides the Secretaries of the Department of Agriculture, in the states of Punjab and Haryana “for information and necessary action”.

The observations were made after a note was placed on the High Court record by Punjab’s Deputy Advocate-General, Chaudhary Randhir Singh. Referring to two such cases, the DAG, in his note, had asserted that complaints in both matters were filed after the expiry of the shelf life. He had added that as a result of this intentional delay in filing the complaint, a valid defence was allowed to be created in favour of the defaulters.

Seeking the initiation of criminal proceedings, besides departmental action against the officers concerned, the DAG added: “The backbone of our economy is agriculture. Genuine insecticides are the requirement of our crops, the backbone of our economy. However, in the past few years, crops after crops have failed and one reason for the same is the poor quality of seeds and sub-standard insecticides and fertilisers.... Since the officers concerned have connived with the defaulters, instead of discharging their responsibilities in public interest, appropriate action should be taken.Back

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