Kurki means attachment of a farmer’s land, already pledged to the money lending institution or individual, in case of a loan default.
A 65-year-old farmer, Balwinder Singh, died by suicide outside the office of the Muktsar DC on August 29. He had been sitting on a dharna outside the administrative complex against kurki orders for his land based on a court case filed against him by the local moneylender for defaulting on loan payment. What is kurki, and why it continues to be a big issue in Punjab?
What is kurki?
Kurki means attachment of a farmer’s land, already pledged to the money lending institution or individual, in case of a loan default. Apart from banks, private moneylenders, commission agents also get these decrees against farmers from time to time.
How is kurki executed?
Kurki orders are executed under Section 60 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The land which is pledged by the farmer to the bank or money lender gets registered in their name. In some cases, the land is auctioned as well. The process begins after the money lender moves court to get kurki orders in case the farmer is unable to pay back his loan. In kurki, attachment of farmer’s land as well as his tractor can be done as per the Section 60.
Was kurki not banned in Punjab?
Both Akali Dal and Congress governments of the past have claimed to have banned kurki. Congress fought the 2017 Assembly polls on the slogan ‘karza kurki khatam, fasal di poori rakam’.
Soon after winning polls in 2017, the then Amarinder Singh government abolished Section 67-A of Punjab Cooperative Societies Act that enabled cooperatives to recover unpaid loans through auctioning of land mortgaged by farmers.
“However, Section 63-B, 63-C of the Act were not dropped to prevent attachment of land,” said Manjit Singh Dhaner, senior vice president of BKU (Dakaunda).
Former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal has also claimed that kurki was abolished by his government.
Dhaner, however, accuses governments of issuing vague orders on the matter.
This was the reason, he said, that farmers keep getting kurki orders.
Why has a total ban on the century-old kurki law not been achieved?
A plea filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2018 sought complete ban on kurki.
However, the Punjab government in its affidavit stated that there was no need to ban kurki as relief was being given to farmers in terms of loan waiver, compensation etc. Moreover, it stated that Section 60 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 – under which kurki takes place — was over 110 years old and needed complete revision.
What is the ground reality?
Farmers point out that they are made to give post-dated cheques for loan, which are then used to get arrest orders issued in cheque bounce cases. They have also accused money lenders of using pronotes signed by them to get kurki orders. “Pro-notes” (promissory notes) are written documents taken from farmers, and signed by them at the time of giving the loan.
In April 2022, over 2,000 arrest warrants were issued against farmers for non-payment of loans to cooperative societies and Punjab agriculture development banks.
Meanwhile, over Rs 3,200 crores is outstanding against farmers’ names in cooperative societies and Punjab agriculture development banks and over 60% of farmers haven’t paid even a penny for the past three years, sources revealed.