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Punjab passes three bills to overrule Centre's farm laws, adds three-year jail term for violation of MSP rules

Opposition MLAs from Shiromani Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party and Lok Insaaf supported the bills in Punjab Assembly.

October 21, 2020 / 12:14 PM IST

The Punjab Assembly has adopted a resolution rejecting the Centre's new farm legislation and passed four bills to counter the contentious laws enacted by the Parliament. The bills were passed unanimously on October 20 during a special assembly session called by the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Opposition MLAs from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Lok Insaaf supported the bills and the resolution, while two BJP MLAs remained absent.

The bills passed by Punjab Assembly provide for imprisonment of minimum three years for the sale or purchase of wheat or paddy below the minimum support price (MSP), exemption of farmers from the attachment of land up to 2.5 acres and prevention of hoarding and black-marketing of agricultural produce.

Singh later in the day met Governor VP Singh Badnore and hoped that he will give his assent to the bills.

The state bills need the Governor's nod before they become laws. The Governor could withhold assent and refer them to the President.

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The laws enacted at the Centre are meant to deregulate the sale of crops and open up new markets for farmers. But they have triggered farmers' protests, particularly in Punjab and Haryana.

The opposition and farmer unions claim that the new laws will lead to the dismantling of the MSP system, a suggestion repeatedly denied by the BJP-led government at the Centre.

Punjab's counter bills add new clauses and amend provisions in the three central laws, with the state government arguing that this will shield its farmers from their impact.

The resolution adopted by the House sought the annulment of the three farm laws. It called for the promulgation of a fresh central ordinance making the procurement of foodgrain at MSP a statutory right for farmers and ensuring that Food Corporation of India and other agencies continue to buy from them.

The resolution also argued that the new laws are against the Constitution as agriculture is a state subject.

Read: Not afraid of resigning, says Punjab CM Amarinder Singh on farm laws issue

Moving the resolution and bills, the Punjab Chief Minister claimed that if the central laws are not repealed, it would lead to anger among the youth.

I am not afraid of resigning. I am not afraid of my government being dismissed. But I will not let farmers suffer or be ruined, he said.

In case the governor does not give his approval to the Bills passed by the assembly, the CM said his government will take legal recourse.

Reacting to the bills passed by Punjab Assembly, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the Centre will "thoroughly examine" the bills whenever they are sent to it, and make a decision in farmers' interest.

"I learnt that the Punjab government has passed bills related to the agriculture reform bill already passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. I am confident that the decisions that we have taken in the interest of farmers cannot be compared with anything. But in democracy, the Assembly (too) has the power to take such decisions," Tomar told news agency PTI.

"Whenever the decision of the Assembly comes to the Union government, it will be thoroughly examined and we will take a decision in the interest of farmers," the Union minister added.

The bills come a month after Congress President Sonia Gandhi urged all Congress-ruled states to explore ways in which they can override the new farm laws.

President Ram Nath Kovind had given assent last month to three central bills -- The Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Oct 21, 2020 12:14 pm

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