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Tuesday, Apr 02, 2002

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Tobacco Board flayed for losing court case

Ch. R.S. Sarma

GUNTUR, April 1

THE President of the Andhra Pradesh Virginia Tobacco Growers Association, Dr Y. Sivaji has criticised the Tobacco Board for not making out a proper case before the AP High Court.

The fact that the court had recently directed the board to pay back Rs 4 crore to tobacco growers who had grown the crop illegally during the crop holiday period the year before last was an ``indication of the ineptitude of the board,'' Dr Sivaji said.

In a statement, Dr Sivaji said the board failed to place the facts in the proper perspective for the court to appreciate the circumstances under which the crop holiday in the State was imposed.

He said as a matter of principle, as well as procedure, the board should not have allowed the auctioning of the crop on the floors, as a crop holiday had been declared. But as it would be too harsh on the farmers to destroy the crop, it had allowed the sale and realised Rs 8 crore. It then paid the minimum support price only, amounting to Rs 4 crore.

The farmers who moved the High Court, argued that only a punitive cess had been levied in Karnataka on the surplus crop grown there that year and the same principle should be applied to the crop grown by them as well. Consequently, ``the court has now directed the board to pay the farmers the rest of the amount as well''.

Dr Sivaji argued that the Karnataka example did not apply to the crop grown illegally in AP that year, when a crop holiday was in force.

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