The Central Government has notified Farmers’ Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Dispute Resolution) Rules, 2020.
These Rules are framed by the Centre in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 22, read with sub-sections (8) and (9) of Section 14, of the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.
Section 14 of the Act provides for a mechanism for dispute resolution. It provides that, where, the farming agreement does not provide for conciliation process as required under sub-section (1) of Section 13, or the parties to the farming agreement fail to settle their dispute under that Section within a period of 30 days, then any such party may approach the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate who shall be the Sub-Divisional Authority for deciding the disputes under farming agreements. Section 22 empowers the Central Government to frame Rules.
As per the Rules now:
- Any party to a farming agreement may, in case of a dispute thereunder, approach the concerned Sub-divisional Authority by filing an application along with an affidavit, a copy of farming agreement, memorandum of conciliation proceeding, if any, any document in support of the claims made therein and proof for having served a copy of such application with documents on the opposite party.
- The applicant may serve a copy of the application along with documents on the opposite party either in person or through a registered post or by any other mode and if it is served at the address of the opposite party given in the farming agreement, it shall be deemed to have been duly served on the opposite party:
- On receipt of the application under sub-rule (1) of rule 4, if the Sub-divisional Authority finds that the farming agreement did not provide for conciliation process, it shall, within fourteen days from the date of receipt of the application, appoint a conciliation board which shall be chaired by an officer serving under the supervision and control of that authority.
- The Sub-Divisional Authority shall, considering the nature, gravity and monetary value involved in the dispute, simultaneously appoint members as recommended by the disputing parties, to the conciliation board, in equal numbers such that total number of appointed members to represent such parties shall be either two or four: Provided that, if a party fails to recommend members within seven days, the Sub-Divisional Authority may appoint such members as it thinks fit, to represent such parties.
Under Section 8 of the Rules:
- If the conciliation board fails to resolve the dispute or the parties to the transaction are unable to resolve the dispute within thirty days as mentioned in sub-rule (1) of rule 7, an aggrieved party may, within fourteen days therefrom, make an application to the concerned Sub- Divisional Authority to decide the dispute.
Provided that the Sub-Divisional Authority may allow the aggrieved party to file such application within twenty-one days instead of fourteen days, if such party shows reasonable or justifiable cause for the delay.
- On receipt of the application under sub-rule (1) or where, after receiving the application under sub-rule (1) of rule 4, the Sub-divisional Authority finds that the farming agreement had provided for conciliation process, but the parties have failed to settle their dispute through conciliation as provided under sub-section (2) of section 13, the Sub-Divisional Authority shall-
(i) issue notice to both parties and they shall attend proceedings before the Sub-Divisional Authority on the designated date;
(ii) hear both the parties by taking into account circumstances and the documentary evidence provided by the parties:
Provided that the Sub-Divisional Authority may, if required, make necessary inquires to arrive at its decision.
- The Sub-Divisional Authority shall decide the dispute in a summary manner subject to the conditions specified in sub-section (2) of section 14, by passing a reasoned order within thirty days from the date of its filing, after giving an opportunity of being heard to the concerned parties.