Punjab Assembly passes Agriculture Indebtedness Bill, 2016
Punjab Legislative Assembly has passed Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Bill, 2016.
The Bill seeks to provide relief to agriculturists, labourers and others dependent on agriculture by providing them fair settlement of their debt related disputes. It also deals with expeditious determination and settlement of non-institutional agricultural debt.
Key features of bill
- It establishes district-level agricultural debt settlement forums and a state-level agricultural debt settlement tribunal to help farmers reconcile and settle their non-institutional debts.
- Government will prescribe a maximum rate of interest which can be charged by the creditors on non-institutional loans provided by them.
- Jurisdiction of civil courts has been barred and all pending disputes in the civil courts will be transferred to these forums from the date the Act is notified.
- Each creditor will issue an authenticated passbook to the debtor and the proceedings before the forum and the tribunal will be judicial proceedings.
- The forum will decide the dispute within three months. Both the forum and tribunal will have a three-year term.
- Any debtor or creditor of agricultural loan can file a petition before the district-level forum for settlement of their debt.
- If they are aggrieved with the order of the forum, then they can file an appeal before the state-level tribunal. The forum can settle agricultural loans up to 15 lakh rupees.