Supreme Court asks Centre to put farm laws on hold, proposes committee to resolve issues

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Updated: January 11, 2021 1:36 PM

The CJI said: "Talks are breaking down because the centre wants to discuss point by point of law and farmers want it to be repealed. We will stay the implementation of the farm acts." The court also said that those unions supporting the acts had not come before it to express their support.

Supreme Court of India

In a setback for the Centre, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to put all three farm laws on hold till the issues flagged by farmers are resolved. It also proposed a committee to be formed to look into the contentious issues in the legislations. “We propose to form a committee and if the government does not then we will stay the implementation of the farm acts,” the CJI said.

The bench headed by CJI said: “Talks are breaking down because the centre wants to discuss point by point of law and farmers want it to be repealed. We will stay the implementation of the farm acts.”

The CJI said that the court was extremely disappointed with the way Centre was dealing with the issues. “What consultative process has been followed for farm bills that entire states are up in rebellion,” he asked Attorney General Venugopal. The AG then read out the details of the consultative process, stating how the state APMC acts were amended and such amendments started during the previous regime.

The bench said that its intention was to see if it can bring about an amicable resolution to the problem. “That is why we asked you why don’t you (Centre) put the farm bills on hold. You want time for negotiation. If there is some sense of responsibility showing that you will not implement the laws. We can form a committee with ICAR members to look into this. Till then you can continue to put the law on hold. Why will you insist on continuing the law anyhow,” the SC said.

Then AG said that so many organizations had come to the Centre from farmer unions and stated that the laws are progressive and that the government should not give in to the protests. To this, the CJI said that there was not a single pleading before it which said it was oppressive. “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 law,” it SC said.

During the hearing, AG Venugopal said that none of the petitions pointed to any provision of three farm acts stating that they are unconstitutional. To this, the CJI said that the bench was not declaring them ‘unconstitutional’. The AG then said that the laws cannot be stayed. “This is drastic.” To this the CJI said: “We are doing this because you have failed to solve the problem. Union of India has to take the responsibility. The laws has resulted into a strike and now you have to solve the strike.”

The attorney general urged the SC that let the farmers come and say to the committee but don’t stay it. He said: “A law cannot be stayed unless its beyond legislative competence or violative of fundamental rights of against any constitutional provision. None of the petitioners have argued on this. Each one of this in support of farmers and farm acts are in their benefit.”

The AG further said that the farmers from South India had not protested because the laws are for their benefit. “That is why we are asking them to understand the law”. He further said that Haryana CM ML Khattar wanted to meet the farmers yesterday but the entire set up of the meeting was destroyed.” On this, the bench headed by CJI said: “We should not be understood that we are protecting any law breaker. If someone breaks the law they will face the consequences sequences. We are not encouraging breaking of law. We propose to pass this order to prevent loss of life and property.”

On protests, the the court said that it had an apprehension that there will be some incident which may breach the peace. “It may be intended or uniended.” “The people who are protesting are not reading guidelines. We don’t want anybody’s injury or blood on our hands!…responsibility is on all of us. Any stray incident can spark violence.”

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