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SC refuses to stop tractor rally; puts the ball in Centre’s court

New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2021

Farmers conduct a tractor rally rehearsal in Gurugram on Wednesday   -  PTI

Responding to a plea for adjournment of hearing to Jan 25, says it is “irregular and improper” for it to “disable” any rally

Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde told the government that it is both “improper and irregular” for the apex court to disallow any rally by protesting farmers on Republic Day.

“It is irregular and improper for this court to disable any rally. It is for the police to decide. We will allow you to withdraw. You are the executive of the country. You decide,” Bobde, heading a three-judge bench, told the Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government.

The CJI’s remarks were in response to a submission by Mehta to adjourn the hearing on a government plea to bar the farmers from holding rallies to “disrupt” Republic Day. “Consider hearing it on January 25. Let us see how the situation develops,” Mehta submitted.

But the CJI allowed the government to withdraw its plea. “You (government) decide what has to be done,” Bobde said. However the court said farmers should ensure that citizens of Delhi are assured of “complete peace” on January 26.

‘Advise farmers’

The CJI called upon advocate Prashant Bhushan to advise his clients, who belong to several farmers' unions which have resolved to come before the committee, to embrace peace. “We want a resolution of the dispute,” Chief Justice Bobde told Bhushan. Bhushan responded, “Everybody wants it. But they are convinced that these laws need to be repealed. The laws were passed without prior notice or consultation. They were not placed for consideration before any parliamentary committees. There was even no voting in the Rajya Sabha on them.”

“In a democracy, other than repeal, a way of striking down a law is through the court. The court is now seized of the issue,” Chief Justice told Bhushan

“Protest is a way of putting pressure on government. If it stops, pressure wanes... Suppose My Lords come to a conclusion the laws are constitutional,” Bhushan replied.

Bhushan said there has already been a call for peace among the protesting farmers’ union on Republic Day.

Published on January 20, 2021

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