The euphoria over Delhi High Court issuing stay order over charging 6% commission from apple farmers in Azadpur fruit market in Delhi is over. The apple merchants in Delhi are still charging commission despite the court’s orders and have feigned ignorance of any such directions being received by them.
The bone of contention is the arbitrary way of functioning of the Azadpur fruit market in Delhi. This market is the biggest in Asia where 60% of the state’s apple produce is disposed off. Apple farmers are up in arms as there has been a steep rise in cost of production and transportation and earlier there was not much awareness of deduction of commission from the growers. Now armed with the law (Refer to clause 40 and 42 ) demand to abolish the practice of charging commission from growers has become vocal.
Delhi High Court on a petition filed by Himachal Government passed an interim stay order in June 2010 directing the government to enforce the amended bylaws, making it obligatory for buyers to pay commission.
Once the news of the interim stay order reached Himchal, what followed, as I termed above was – Euphoria. Mr. Bragta was quick to rise to the occasion and like a ‘true leader’ termed the decision ‘historic’ and now wanted to recover the huge commission amounts from the Delhi fruit merchants that were collected over a ten year period (from 1999 when the APMC laws were amended.)
Congratulations came from all quarters to Mr. Bragta. BJP workers resorted to chest thumping. The workers and leader started acknowledging the government’s achievement in stopping the apple commission.
An impression was created within the state by Mr. Bragta and the BJP that charging of commission has been finally stopped. But the reality was altogether different and a lot bitter!!
The practise of charging commission is going on as per usual. Attached here is a sale received from Azadpur market dated July 2, 2010 where 6% commission has been charged.
It is to be noted that the Court has only given an ‘interim stay order’ pending final decision on the appeal. Meanwhile, the impression created in the state by Mr. Bragta and BJP leaders was as if the Court has ruled in it’s favour. An average farmer is confused by the blatant statements being dished out by the leaders on this issue. While BJP leaders are openly acknowledging their ‘victory’ the sale received from Delhi market speaks a totally different story.
When enquired with the fruit merchant at Delhi about the High Court stay order he said there was no such thing communicated to them. The grower then told him the Horticulture Minister Mr. Bragta has been saying daily the commission has been stopped, the merchant asked the grower, ‘Aap Bragta ji se hi pucho.’ Delhi fruit merchants are directly challenging the Court’s order by not heeding to the stay order and charging commissions arbitrarily.
The entire scenario is tragic as well as comic leading to overall confusion. Farmers have no clue what is actually happening and whom to believe. It was comic indeed to see the BJP leaders acknowledge to something which never materialised. Sensing the trouble Mr. Bragta has now appealed to the farmers not to send their produce to Delhi and instead sell it within the state.
While it is indeed commendable of the state government to pursue this matter in courts and getting a stay order. What made Mr. Bragta and the BJP laughing stock was going overboard and politicising the whole issue before the final judgement was delivered. If and when the court decides in favour of Himachal, no one will ever doubt their contribution. In my previous article, Himachal moves court on apple commission issue, I had lauded Mr. Bragta for taking up the Horticulture ministry again as it is a bed of thorns.
Himachal government should initiate contempt of court proceedings against the Delhi government and Azadpur Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee to enforce the court orders.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bragta needs to focus and to keep working with his feet on ground and not get carried away.