The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday lashed out at the Maharashtra government for the delay in submitting the Special Investigation Team (SIT) report on the death of over 40 farmers in the state due to pesticide inhalation.
In fact, the court asked the government "why it was suppressing the report", according to The Times of India.
"When an assurance was given in October to make the SIT report public within three weeks, why hasn't it come till date? You should have pointed it out, whether it was ready or not. You should have called the concerned authorities today itself, taken details about the report, and made a statement today itself," the report quoted the judges as saying.
In early October last year, several deaths due to pesticide poisoning were reported from Yavatmal and adjoining districts in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
The SIT appointed by the state government submitted its report to the government in November.
PTI had reported that the SIT report had revealed that names of four farmers, who had committed suicide earlier, also figure in the list of the pesticide victims.
The report had also said that there has been a violation of standard operating procedures by several departments, including the home department, headed by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
In fact, a senior IAS officer posted in the state Agriculture Department had alleged, "It is a deliberate attempt to show these suicide cases as victims of pesticide inhalation possibly to misappropriate the compensation amount (at the departmental level) given by the state government."
"It is not just about inserting the farmers' names for compensation. It seems officials from the health, agriculture, home and revenue departments, apart from private companies selling these pesticides, are involved in this mess..." he had alleged.
In the report, the SIT had also mentioned that the local government doctors collected the blood samples of pesticide victims and in most cases, had asked their relatives to get the samples tested from the Nagpur-based laboratories.
These instructions were given despite the government having funds to carry out such blood tests and obtain results, the report had said.
The Times of India had also reported on 24 December that Fadnavis had told the media then that the report was not ready and more investigations were required before making it public. "It's still under scrutiny. Many departments are yet to study it. Only after their comments, the report would be finalised," the report had quoted Fadnavis as saying.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jan 11, 2018 12:43 PM