Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Potato price: Calcutta HC dismisses PIL

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The Calcutta High Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the West Bengal government’s setting market price of potatoes since 2014, which is affecting cultivators.

The PIL filed by one Chandisadhan Kole further raised the grievance that since the beginning of 2014 the State has totally stopped transportation of potatoes to the neighbouring States, as a result of which, the farmers of the other States are capturing the market.

The petitioner has also raised the grievance that the rates of potatoes have not been fixed in a free and fair manner and in this background, a prayer has been made to command the respondents to take effective decision to maintain the norms as well as decision with regard to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

Tapan Dutta Gupta , counsel for the petitioner, referring to the earlier order of the High Court dated 15.11.2019 passed in WP 8802(W) of 2019, has submitted that a direction was issued to decide the petitioner’s representation, but the same has not been decided till now.

S.N. Mookherjee, Advocate General , has opposed the petition by submitting that there is no proof of any such representation and that the plea which is taken in the petition is also incorrect.

Having examined the record, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj found that by order dated 15.11.2019 passed in WP 8802(W) of 2019 the petitioner was granted liberty to make representation to the Principal Secretary, Agricultural Marketing Department, Government of West Bengal within a period of four weeks along with the petition and on filing such petition the said respondent was directed to ensure that the representation gains requisite attention at the appropriate level. There is nothing on record to show that in pursuance to the order of the High Court dated 15.11.2019, any such representation was made.

The counsel for the petitioner has submitted that since no decision was taken earlier, therefore, subsequently on 05.07.2022 fresh representation was made.

But on perusal thereof, the Bench finds that in the so-called representation there is no reference to the earlier representation.

The High Court also noted that within 10 days of filing the representation, the petitioner had filed the present petition on 15.07.2022. Therefore, the grievance in respect of non-consideration of representation is unfounded , observed the Bench.

That apart, the Advocate General has also informed the Court that after 12.12.2014 there is no restriction on movement of potatoes outside the State of West Bengal and the State of West Bengal is not regulating the prices of potatoes.

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