On the 11th of January, the Supreme Court (SC) heard a few petitions filed against the three farm laws.
A bench of judges headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.A. Bobde expressed disappointment and reviewed the petitions.
During the hearing, the Apex Court showed concern for the protesting farmers and asked about their whereabouts.
The Bench said, “People are committing suicides. People are suffering in cold. Who is taking care of water and food?? Old people and women are in the ground. Why are old people in the farmer protests? We don’t want to comment on the agitation.” The bench further said, “Whether you have faith or not, we are the Supreme Court of India, we will do our job.”
The Court said they are disappointed with the way negotiations between the Central Government and the farmers are being held. So far, the Central Government and 41 unions of farmers conducted 8 rounds of talks, which were inconclusive. The last round of talks was held on the 8th of January.
In regard to the ongoing situation and protests at the three borders of Delhi, the Apex Court asked the Centre to stay the laws.
Stating the urgent need to put a stay on the three laws, the Court said, “We are not experts on the economy; you tell us whether govt is going to put on hold farm laws or we will do this (sic.)”
The Court directed the Central Government to form a committee for reviewing the three laws and submit a report.
The bench comprising of CJI S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V. Ramashbramanian said, “Let those farmer unions who say it is progressive say that before the committee. But you have to tell us whether you stay the farm acts or we do it. Keep it in abeyance. What is the issue?? We are not in favour of easily staying a law but we want to say don’t implement the law.”
The decision to implement a stay on the three laws came after the last round of talk failed.
However, the Central Government denied failure and said, healthy discussions are going on between the Centre and the farmer unions.
The Government of India also said there was a good chance that both sides may come to a conclusion in the near future.
In addition to reviewing the plea against the laws, the Apex Court also reviewed a bunch of petitions filed against the ongoing protest.
However, the Court dismissed the plea saying protests are fundamental rights of the citizens of India.
The Court said, “without impediment” and this court will not “interfere” with it as the right to protest is a fundamental right.
The CJI criticised the Central Government saying if it was the “part of the solution or the problem.”
CJI Bobde said, “We are sorry to say that the Centre has not been able to solve the problem and the farmers’ agitation. We don’t want to make any stray observations on your negotiations but we are extremely disappointed with the process. What is going on? States are rebelling against your laws.”
Thousands of farmers from Haryana and Punjab travelled to Delhi and are protesting at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders. The protests which started on the 25th of December, completed 46 days on the 10th of January.
The farmers are protesting against the three farm laws implemented by the Central Government in September 2020.
According to the farmers, the three farm bills –
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020, the Farmers Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020 (Empowerment and Protection) and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020, would demolish Minimum Price Support (MSP) giving agriculture sector to the corporates and privatise the agriculture sector.
They also fear, with the new agriculture laws, they would be at the mercy of corporate people, as the mandi system would also be out of context.
The next meeting between the 41 farmer unions and the Central Government is scheduled to be held on the 15th of January.
Stay tuned for further updates.