Agri Business

Apex court puts three farm laws on hold, forms panel for talks

Krishnadas Rajagopal NEW DELHI | Updated on January 12, 2021 Published on January 12, 2021

A view of the Supreme Court (file photo)   -  Reuters

All farmers’ bodies told to participate; committee to give report in two months

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of three controversial farm laws, calling its order “extraordinary” and a “victory for fair play”.

The laws whose implementation has been suspended are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

The stay means the Centre cannot, for the time being, proceed with any executive action to enforce the three laws.

The court formed a four-member committee of experts “to listen to the grievances of the farmers on the farm laws and the views of the government and make recommendations”.

The stay, the court said, “may assuage the hurt feelings of the farmers” and make them confident enough to scythe their way to the negotiating table in good faith”.

In the concluding paragraph of the order, the court said farmers’ bodies would “perceive” the “extraordinary” stay as an achievement of their peaceful protest “at least for the present”. It may convince these organisations to “encourage” their members to go home to their livelihoods and, thus, protect their lives and health and that of others too.

The court lauded the peaceful nature of the protests and said it did not want to stifle it.

However, the court noted Attorney General KK Venugopal’s “support” of a “specific averment” by the Indian Kisan Union that an organisation, Sikhs for Justice, banned for anti-India secessionist movement, is financing the agitation.

In his turn, Venugopal orally remarked that there were reports that “Khalistanis” had infiltrated the protests.

The court order made it clear that farmers’ bodies “shall” participate in the discussions of the committee. “The representatives of all the farmers’ bodies, whether they are holding a protest or not and whether they support or oppose the laws shall participate in the deliberations of the committee and put forth their view points,” the court directed.

Committee members

The committee consists of Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Parmod Kumar Joshi, agricultural economist, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; and Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sanghatana.

The committee is to start work in 10 days and submit a report to the apex court in two months. The government wil bear its expenses.

The court directed that the Minimum Support Price System should be maintained until further orders. Also, farmers’ landholdings should be protected.“That is, no farmer shall be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the farm laws,” the court ordered.

The court scheduled the next hearing after eight weeks.

 

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Published on January 12, 2021
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