Farmers protest: SC stays implementation of farm laws, forms 4-member committee


New Delhi: Amid the farmers’ warning of intensifying the protest on Republic Day, the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday decided to make up a four-member committee to solve the ongoing crisis between the Union government and farmers’ unions.

The apex court stayed the implementation of the three controversial farm laws till further orders. A three-judge bench headed by SA Bobde, Chief Justice of India said, “We are willing to suspend the laws but not indefinitely without any activity going on both sides,” quoted Hindustan Times. The bench also said that it will pass an order to this effect later.

The bench of the four-member committee will look into the farmers’ grievances on the issue. HS Mann, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, president of Maharashtra’s Shetkari Sanghatana, Anil Ghanwat; Pramod Kumar Joshi, the director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati will be the members of the panel, it said.

“We are forming a committee so that we have a clearer picture. We don’t want to hear arguments that farmers will not go to the committee. We are looking to solve the problem. If you (farmers) want to agitate indefinitely, you can do so,” CJI Bobde said, reported Hindustan Times.

However, farm leaders welcomed the SC order but said they are not ready to call off their protest until the legislation was repealed.

The bench was hearing a batch of petitions, including those filed by DMK lawmaker Tiruchi Siva, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Manoj K Jha, regarding the constitutional validity of the farm laws, passed by the Modi led Union government in September last year, and the plea to disperse protesting farmers from the Delhi border.

Earlier on Monday, the apex court said that it is “extremely disappointed” with the negotiations between the union government and the farm union leaders. The court also indicated that the three contentious laws will have to be put on hold for creating an atmosphere conducive to talks.

The bench had likewise asked the Centre if it was willing to stop the implementation of the laws, saying it will do it in any case. Attorney General KK Venugopal was asked to come back with a response.

Meanwhile, late on Monday night, the unions expressed that they would not have any desire to go before the proposed committee. As per the unions, it would not bode well to go before the board after the centre affidavit which maintained that laws will not be repealed.

The SC had earlier sought the Centre’s response on a batch of pleas against the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

A large number of agitating farmers, essentially from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at the Delhi border since November 26.