Monday, March 4, 2024

Farmers’ protest: Supreme Court to pass order today, hearing begins

The Supreme Court will pronounce its interim order on the petitions against the new farm laws on Tuesday. Farmers from Punjab and Haryana and a few other states have been protesting at the borders of Delhi since November 2020 after the Central government didn’t allow them to enter the Capital, barring a designated protest site in a corner of the city.

The order will be pronounced by the bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian. On Monday, the Bench was very firm in its disappointment with the Centre’s attempts to solve the farmers’ ruffled feathers. It reminded the Centre that unless the government did something about it, the Apex Court can well stay its implementation.

The Court made many critical observations on the Central government’s inability to settle the issue through negotiations with protesting farmers staying put at various Delhi borders. It even said it will do whatever to prevent violence and breaking of laws.

Expressing his disappointment over the government’s handling of the farmers protest, CJI Bobde said it is extremely disappointing to see the way the Centre has handled farmers’ agitation. Something went enormously wrong as it failed to develop consensus on the three laws by taking farmers’ unions on board, while eight rounds of talks between the two sides have been inconclusive, he noted.

The CJI asked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal that if you don’t want to put on hold the implementation of the laws, then the Court will do it. The CJI asked that what is the problem in keeping it in abeyance?

On the last occasion, the government has not replied when asked. Now the matter is getting worse and people are committing suicide. People are suffering in the cold, the CJI asked the Attorney General.

Attorney General Venugopal, objecting to a stay, said the court should not pass an order in a hurry. The CJI responded that it had already given the Centre a long rope and said don’t lecture us on patience. We will decide when to pass the order. We might pass in part today and in part tomorrow.

At the end of the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the court’s observations were ‘harsh’.

The Court observed that a Committee needs to be formed to resolve the deadlock between the farmers and the government. The government is ready to discuss farm laws clause by clause with the protesting farmers while the farmers are demanding to repeal farm laws.

During the hearing, the CJI said staying the implementation of laws and staying the law are different. We can always stay executive action under a law. Who will be responsible if any bloodshed happens? he wondered.

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Solicitor General Mehta, who opposed the stay order during the hearing, has sought a day’s time to suggest names for the Committee. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for a farmers group, suggested the name of former CJI Justice RM Lodha as a member of the Committee.


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