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Farmers' Protest: Supreme Court stays implementation of 3 farm laws till further orders

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said it will also set up a Committee to resolve the impasse between the farmers' unions and the government over the three farm laws, which have triggered protests at Delhi borders since November last year.

January 12, 2021 / 02:29 PM IST
Supreme Court of India (SC).

Supreme Court of India (SC).

The Supreme Court on January 12 said it will suspend the implementation of the three farm laws until further orders.

The top court said that it will also set up a Committee to resolve the impasse between the farmers' unions and the government over the three farm laws, which have triggered protests at Delhi borders since November last year.

"We are going to suspend the implementation of the three farm laws until further orders", Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said during the hearing in a batch of petitions batch of petitions challenging the laws.

Follow our LIVE BLOG on Farmers' Protest here

Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati,  Jitender Singh Maan, President BKU. Dr Pramod KumarJoshi, International policy head and Anil Dhanvat of  Shivkeri Sangathna will be part of the Committee.

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The next hearing of the case will be held on January 18, reports said.  The formal orders will be uploaded shortly.

The three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India and Justices AS Bopana and V Ramasubramanian heard arguments from both sides on January 11 and January 12.

"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," Bobde said during the hearing on January 12.

The farmers’ unions had, earlier, shot down the proposal to go before a Committee.

"Every person who is genuinely interested in solving the problem is expected to go before the Committee. The Committee will not punish you or pass any orders. It will submit a report to us," the CJI said insisting that the Court doesn't want to hear an argument that farmers will not go to the committee

Earlier, senior advocate PS Narasimha, representing one of the intervenors supporting the farm laws, submitted before the court that these kind of protests could be "dangerous" as "banned" groups like "Sikhs for Justice" were involved.

The CJI asked Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal to confirm  Narasimha's allegation.  The AG said Khalistanis have infiltrated into the protests.

"If there is an infiltration by a banned organization, and somebody is making an allegation here on record, you have to confirm it. You file an affidavit by tomorrow," the CJI asked AG  who said an will be filed along with IB records.

During the hearing on January 11, the top court had hinted at its intention of putting the implementation of farm laws on hold to end the impasse between the government and the protesting farmers. The court observed that the steps taken by the government to break the deadlock have proven ineffective.

In its affidavit filed hours after the hearing concluded on January 11, the Centre told the top court that the three laws were a result of two decades of deliberations and that the demand to repeal them in entirety was "neither justifiable nor acceptable"

​"The Central government has done its best to engage with the farmers to remove any misapprehensions or misgivings in their minds and no efforts have been found lacking," the affidavit said.

Thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points for more than 45 days now, demanding repeal of the laws, and a legal guarantee on minimum support prices (MSP) for their crops.

Several rounds of talks between the Centre and farmers’ union leaders have failed to end the deadlock so far.

The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions on January 8 remained inconclusive as the government ruled out repealing the three laws. Another round of talks was scheduled to be held on January 15.

The two sides had arrived at some common ground in the sixth round of talks held on December 30 with the government agreeing on two of the four demands of farmers – removing stubble burning penalty on farmers and withdrawing provisions in the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, which intend to change the mode of subsidy payment to farmers.

The Centre has projected these farm laws as major agriculture reforms aimed at helping farmers and increasing their income, but the protesting unions fear that the new legislation has left them at the mercy of big corporates by weakening the MSP and mandi systems.
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