In a major blow and setback to the Modi-led Central government, the Supreme Court of India has on Tuesday issued an order of staying the three farm laws until further notice and the court's directive has come a day after it has pronounced a strong warning to the government over it's response to the farmers' protests and it also has expressed disapproval that the Center had brought the laws without proper consultation.
The apex court bench chaired by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and comprising of Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian had stayed the implementation of the three controversial farm laws and said that it will install a committee to address the farmers' grievances. The top judicial body had asserted that the committee will be part of judicial proceedings. The members of the committee include President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Bhupinder Singh Maan, international policy head Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi, Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati and president of the Shivkeri Sangathna Anil Dhanvat.
The apex court bench said that it's looking to solve the problems of farmers'. By citing that farmers' can agitate indefinitely if they want, the court said that every person who is genuinely interested in solving the problem is expected to go before the committee. The Chief Justice said, "The Committee will not punish the farmers or pass any orders. It will submit a report to us. We are going to take the opinion of the organizations. We are forming the committee so that we have a clearer picture".
According to reports, the Chief Justice stated, "a legislation cannot be suspended by the court without a purpose. We will pass an interim order saying no farmers' land can be sold for contract farming". " We are concerned about only the validity of the laws and also about protecting the life and property of citizens affected by protests. We are trying to solve the problem in accordance with the powers we have. 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", Chief Justice SA Bobde added.
The Supreme Court had called the protesting farmers' to co-operate with the committee to resolve the dispute. Amid the incessant deadlock, the court said that no power can prevent it from installing a committee to end the deadlock and the bench has strongly pressed that it has the power to repeal the farm laws to solve the problem. When it has passed the order of staying the farm laws till further notice, the court said to the farmer unions that they must cooperate with the committee by citing that this is not politics and there is a difference between politics and judiciary.
Despite facing a blow from the apex court, Attorney General KK Venugopal, who represented the Central government, told the bench that Khalistanis have joined the farmer protests at the Delhi border. Responding to the allegations from the Attorney General, the Chief Justice asked him to submit an official affidavit on Wednesday. The court's order of abeyance on the farm laws has come a day after it has castigated the center for its hostile response to the farmers' protests. On Monday, the court had expressed that it doesn't know whether the Center is part of the solution or part of the problem.
In a warning note, the Supreme Court said, "put laws on hold, or we will". It has also sounded in favor of installing a committee to attain an amicable resolution and asked the government to give a clear response. The apex court had said that it is extremely disappointed with the way the talks are getting unfolded between the government and farmers. After the apex court had passed the order to stay the implementation of farm laws on Tuesday, the farm union leaders had welcomed the decision while they asserted that they will continue protests until the government completely repeals the new laws.
According to PTI, the Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of around 40 protesting farmer unions, has called a meeting later on Tuesday to decide the next course of action. The farmer leaders also said that they are not willing to participate in any proceedings before a committee appointed by the Supreme Court, but a formal decision on this will be taken by the body. A senior leader of the protesting unions said, "We welcome the court's order to stay the implementation of the farm laws, but we want a complete repeal of these laws".
Thousands of farmers from across the country particularly from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh had gathered in Delhi and they have been protesting against the Center with their sole motive of repealing the farm laws. Their protests are going to hit two straight months as the peasants had camped their livelihoods in the national capital and they had vowed that they won't back off until the government repeals the farm laws, which they fear as that these laws would dismantle the grounds of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and would pump in private players into the agricultural sector.