The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of three laws deregulating India’s agriculture markets, saying it will give further orders. The court will set up a committee to take over negotiations between the government and farmer unions.
The court served notice to various farmers unions for their plan to drive tractors to Delhi on Republic Day to protest against the contested laws. “These are matters of life and death. We are concerned with laws. We are concerned with lives and property of people affected by the agitation. We are trying to solve the problem in the best way. One of the powers we have is to suspend the legislation,” Chief Justice SA Bobde said.
The verdict comes a day after the court chided on the Narendra Modi government for failing to break a deadlock with farmers protesting against reforms of the agricultural sector.
After some tough talk that the Centre has been given a long rope and “failed” to break the deadlock and not been “effective” in handling the stir. It also proposed setting up a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India (CJI) to find ways to resolve the impasse.
At a virtual hearing, a three-judge bench headed by Bobde questioned the Centre’s vehement opposition to its suggestion that the implementation of the farm laws enacted in September be kept on hold for the time being so as to help find an amicable solution.
After the hearing on farm laws concluded on Monday, the Centre hurriedly filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, stating that the legislations were not hurriedly made but are the result of two decades of deliberations, and their repeal is not justifiable or acceptable.
The Centre had told the Supreme Court that it has been actively and intensively engaging with the states for about two decades to introduce reforms to provide accessible and barrier-free market system for better price realisation, but states either showed reluctance to adopt the reforms in true spirit or made partial or cosmetic reforms.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that the top court has made harsh observations regarding the handling of the situation by the government.
Meanwhile, the united farmers’ union has hardened its stand and said that all the farmers’ organisations, which are spearheading the fight against the farm laws, are unanimous in their decision that the laws must be repealed forthwith and has decided not to attend the committee if formed by the apex court.
“Though all organisations express great respect for the Hon’ble Supreme Court for it’s understanding of the problem and comforting words expressed during the hearing today,” said a statement issued by the unions.
While all the organisations welcome the suggestions of the Supreme Court to stay the implementation of the farm laws, they are collectively and individually not willing to participate in any proceeding before a committee that may be appointed by the apex court.