In Maharashtra, the National Advisory Council, in its meeting on October 9, 2014 decided to amend the law.
As per the government’s notification on October 10, 2014, the maximum penalty as per Article 144 of the Indian Penal Code is three to eight years’ imprisonment.
The government’s notification says that if a farmer is found growing saffron at such a large scale that it has spread the saffron to areas in which it is not possible to grow the crop, there will be an immediate and a three-to eight-month period of prohibition till the crop is reduced to a satisfactory level.
The government is also considering setting up small scale saffron seed banks, in which the saffron can be cultivated.
The Rajasthan government passed a saffron law in 2014 which allowed farmers to grow saffron up to a maximum of five bags in a space of one acre.
What sort of punishment does a farmer face for failing to grow saffron?
Farmers can face a maximum three to eight months in jail and the maximum sanction that can be granted if their crop is left wilting after more than four months of harvesting and the wilting is evident in visible form. The police can also issue a preventive or corrective action notice, if it finds that the farmer’s crop has grown less than it normally would.
In Maharashtra, the National Advisory Council has already recommended the decriminalization of saffron for the farmers and the Rajasthan government in 2013 made it a cognisable offence under the Information Technology Act and the Criminal Procedure Code.
In April, the Supreme Court, for the first time allowed the government to decriminalize saffron. The apex court did not specify the penalties, though the Delhi High Court has said farmers are being made a target for being averse.
The apex court, in 2013, had held that such legislation was necessary to curb an unprofitable industrial crop. The apex court had also referred to the economic reasons for saffron farmers opting for “non-agricultural and non-agricultural crops.”
Are there any concerns regarding the growing of saffron in rural India?
Saffron will have a much greater impact in rural India as there are fewer people and fewer landholdings.
This is evident in the rural areas, where many families, particularly farmers, have never bought saffron, but farmers are now demanding it.
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