SC stays implementation of farm laws, forms committee to examine farmer concerns

Delhi Police file plea seeking injunction against Republic Day tractor rally by farmers

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 12 January 2021
SC stays implementation of farm laws, forms committee to examine farmer concerns
Farmers sitting on protest near Delhi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons Farmers sitting on protest near Delhi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three contentious farm laws till further orders January 12, 2021. It also announced the formation of a four-member committee to examine the concerns of farmer unions and hold talks between them and the Centre, according to legal news website Bar and Bench.

The committee includes Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist; Pramod Joshi, director (South Asia), International Food Policy Research Institute; Anil Dhanvat, president, Shetkari Sangathan, Maharashtra and Bhupinder Singh Mann of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint front of farmer unions, had said in a statement January 11 that they would not participate in proceedings before any committee appointed by the Supreme Court. 

Senior advocate ML Sharma, who represented some farmer unions in the hearing January 12, said the farmers felt the committee would not yield results.

However, the court said it did not want “negative inputs” and that all those who were “genuinely interested” in solving the problem, would have to go before the committee.

“We don’t want to hear an argument that farmers will not go to the committee. We are looking to solve the problem. If you want to agitate indefinitely, you can,” SA Bobde, the chief justice of India (CJI) said.

He added that the laws could not be suspended for an empty purpose. “The committee is not going to punish you. You will go to the committee through a lawyer,” Bobde said.

“We have the power to suspend the legislation. But the suspension of legislation must not be for an empty purpose. We will form a committee which will submit a report to us,” the CJI said.

The court also said the committee appointed by it was not a “mediating”, but an independent one, to understand the concerns of farmers. 

The ruling came in response to a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of the three farm laws enacted last September. A detailed order is expected January 18.

The CJI also said the court would stay the implementation of the legislation and shall protect farmers’ land, if the farmers agreed to participate before the committee.

“We will pass an interim order saying the no farmer’s land can be sold for contract farming,” he said.

In response, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out that Section 8 of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act provided that no farming agreement shall be entered into for the purpose of transfer, sale, mortgage, etc while contract-farming.

Meanwhile, the apex court also sought a response from the Centre on whether a banned organisation had infiltrated the farmers’ protests. The direction came after PS Narasimha, who represented a petitioner supporting the farm laws, claimed members of ‘Sikhs for Justice’ were helping the protestors.

The Attorney General claimed that Khalistanis were part of the protests. He added he would file an affidavit with Intelligence Bureau records by January 13.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police have also moved an application before the Supreme Court, seeking for an injunction against the proposed tractor / trolley / vehicle march on Republic Day.

The Supreme Court has issued notice to farmer associations over the plea that will be heard January 18.

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