Five days after it stayed the implementation of the new farm laws till further orders, the Supreme Court will on Monday hear again the pleas relating to contentious laws as well as the ongoing farmers’ protest at Delhi borders.
The top court will also hear the plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26
During the hearing, the apex court may take into account the matter of recusal of a member of the four-member panel set up by it to listen to the grievances and make recommendations to resolve the impasse. Bhupinder Singh Mann, president of BKU (Mann) and chairman of All India Kisan Coordination Committee had recused himself from the court-appointed panel two days after he was included in it, saying “I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab”.
The committee comprised Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of Bhartiya Kisan Union; Dr Parmod Kumar Joshi, 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 of Shetkari Sanghatana.
On Saturday, a farmers’ organisation approached the Supreme Court urging it to reconstitute the four-member committee appointed by the court to interact with representatives of farmers and government for an amicable resolution of the differences over the new farm laws.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lok Shakti) in its plea pointed out that one of the four members, Bhupinder Singh Mann, has backed out of the committee, and the others — Ashok Gulati, Pramod Kumar Joshi and Anil Ghanwat — have already taken positions in support of the farm laws.
The farmers’ body wondered how these three members could submit a report without bias when they had already backed the laws “made and passed by the Central government without enough discussion with farmers”.
Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar Saturday said that a large number of farmers and experts are in favour of farm laws. “A large number of farmers & experts are in favour of farm laws. After Supreme Court’s order, the laws can’t be implemented. Now we expect that farmers discuss the laws clause-wise on January 19 and tell government what they want other than the repeal of the laws,” ANI quoted Tomar as saying.
“We had sent a proposal to farmer unions in which we agreed to address their apprehensions regarding mandis, traders’ registration &others. Govt also agreed to discuss laws on stubble burning and electricity but unions only want the repeal of the laws,” he added.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.
Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers’ income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and “mandi” (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.