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SC suspends implementation of farm laws

SC suspends implementation of farm laws

The Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended the implementation of the three farm laws under further notice and decided to set up a committee to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers’ unions protesting at Delhi borders. A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said those “genuinely” interested in finding a solution would appear before the committee.

For those who don’t know about this issue a quick recap, Farmers from many states are out in the cold sitting on dharna at Delhi’s borders against the three newly enacted farm laws, which they believe will rob them of their livelihood, and, eventually, their lands too. Amongst their many fears, real or imaginary, is that the new laws will open the agrarian sector to corporates in a big way and that in the absence of a statutory guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP), they will be forced to sell their produce for a song as they do not have the wherewithal to carry the same to far-flung places in pursuit of a better price. The farmers are not willing to settle at anything less than the withdrawal of the three contentious Acts and have resolved to stay put at the borders, whether it takes them days or months to make the government relent.

The government, on the other hand, is equally adamant and is not willing to cede any ground to the farmers. Initially, instead of soothing their frayed nerves, attempts were made to discredit the protesters by calling them Khalistanis. When that did not stick, they were called anti-nationals. In the latest salvo, the Union agriculture minister, in an open letter to the farmers, alleged that those stopping trains at the borders when the situation in Ladakh is challenging cannot be farmers. Perhaps, the minister needs to know that most of the soldiers he is referring to may well turn out to be the sons or relatives of these farmers. The government believes the three laws are in the best interest of the farmers, and that they are being misled by the Opposition. 

Meanwhile, at least 29 protestors have reportedly died. The matter has reached the Supreme Court. While the Bhartiya Kisan Union has challenged the constitutional validity of the three Acts, a law student in a separate petition has sought the removal of protesting farmers from the site to a designated place citing inconvenience to the public, besides the threat of COVID-19.

A detailed order is came on Monday. During the hearing, the chief justice said the court will pass an interim order saying the no farmers’ land can be sold for contract farming till the matter is resolved. Before pronouncing the order, the bench commenced the hearing and urged the farmers’ unions to cooperate and go before the committee to be appointed by it to resolve the dispute.

“We are concerned about only the validity of the laws and also about protecting the life and property of citizens affected by protests,” said Justice Bobde. “We are trying to solve the problem in accordance with the powers we have.” When informed that farmers were not keen on appearing before any committee, Chief Justice Bobde said every person who is “genuinely interested” in solving the problem is expected to appear before the panel. “The committee will not punish you or pass any orders,” he added. “It will submit a report to us. We are going to take the opinion of the organizations. We are forming the committee so that we have a clearer picture.” It highlighted the difference between judiciary and politics and asked the farmers to cooperate with it. “This is not politics. There is a difference between politics and judiciary and you will have to cooperate”, it said to farmer unions.

The chief justice also reminded advocates that the court has the power to suspend the legislation and observed that no power can stop it from setting up a committee to evaluate the pros and cons of the farm laws. Bobde went on to say that after the committee gives finding which provisions to be deleted, it will deal with the farm laws. “We can’t suspend the laws indefinitely. The suspension will have to run parallel to a process for resolution,” he further noted.

“But the suspension of legislation must not be for an empty purpose,” he added. “We will form a committee which will submit a report to us,” he said. The Centre also told the Supreme Court that the farmers’ agitation had been infiltrated by separatists and “Khalistanis”. The court asked the government to file an affidavit to support its claims, by Tuesday, with confirmation that separatist outfits have hijacked the farmers’ movement.

The members of this panel are:

1) Bharatiya Kisan Union President Bhupinder Singh Mann
2) International Policy Head Pramod Joshi
3) Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati
4) Maharashtra Shetkari Sanghatana member Anil Ghanwat

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About The Author

Praveen Yadav

19 | Bibliophile and quaint | Full-Time Coder, Occasional Writer | Analytical Journalist at NDTV | Political and Psychological

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