The Supreme Court, on Monday, stated that it was in favor of staying the three Farm Laws till the deadlock between the Central government and protesting farmers over the contentious laws is resolved. The Union of India has to take responsibility. The laws have resulted in a strike and now you have to solve the strike,” the Court said
A Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI), SA Bobde, and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian also expressed disappointment at how the Centre has handled the issue observing that the central government has failed to solve the problem.
“We propose to form a committee and if the government does not (stay the law), then we will stay the implementation of the Farm Acts. We are extremely disappointed with the way Centre is dealing with this. We are doing this because you have failed to solve the problem. Union of India has to take the responsibility. The laws have resulted in a strike and now you have to solve the strike,” the Court said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta vehemently argued that the Centre has done its best to resolve the deadlock and said that observations by the Court in that regard were “harsh.”
The Court did not pass any order on Monday but remarked that it is likely to pass its order later in the day or on Tuesday. The Court also said that it will do its job as the apex court of the country. The CJI also hinted that the Court was in favor of shifting the site of the protest elsewhere.
“We don’t want anyone to say that we stifled the protest. But it needs to be seen if protesters can be removed a bit from there,” CJI Bobde remarked. He further emphasized that the Court is not encouraging lawbreakers. “It should not be understood that we are protecting any lawbreaker. If someone breaks the law they will face the consequences sequences. We are not encouraging the breaking of the law. We propose to pass this order to prevent loss of life and property,” CJI Bobde said.
We don’t want anybody’s injury or blood on our hands, the Court stated while demanding why the Centre was insisting on not keeping the law in abeyance till the matter was solved. “Our intention is to see if we can bring about an amicable resolution to the problem. That is why we asked you why don’t you 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, then 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,” CJI Bobde asked.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the Centre, objected to the stay stating that the laws are within the legislative competence of the Parliament and are intended to benefit the farmers. “A law cannot be stayed unless its beyond legislative competence or violative of Fundamental rights of against any constitutional provision. Farm Laws are for their benefit,” he said.
While highlighting that farmers from South India have not protested against the laws, it was said that “Farmers from South India have not protested. Why? Because the laws are for their benefit. That is why we are asking them to understand the law. Haryana CM also wanted to meet the farmers but the entire setup of the meeting was destroyed. Press reporters were assaulted.” Farm laws are for the benefit of farmers. Farmers from South India are not protesting. But the Court maintained that staying the implementation of the law would help ease the tension and prevent any probable violence. “Who is going to be responsible for bloodshed? We need to uphold Article 21 as a Constitutional court. What if some conflagration takes place,” the Bench demanded. CJI Bobde also asked various farmers unions and organizations, who were party to the matter, to persuade the women, old, and child protesters to go back to their native places.
“Can you convey to them that the Chief Justice has made this request,” he told Senior Advocates Dushyant Dave and HS Phoolka who were appearing for the farmers. “Mr.Phoolka you persuade them to go back. At some point of time, we might say in our order that old people and women need not be there in the protests,” he added. Why don’t you put the laws on hold. Who is going to be responsible for bloodshed?
All the while, the Court maintained that the object of the hearing was to bring the farmers to the discussion table before a committee which the Court was proposing to constitute. In this regard, the Court also asked parties to suggest names of former judges who could head the committee.
The three laws, Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act & Amendment to Essential Commodities Act were assailed before the Court as illegal, arbitrary, and unconstitutional.
It was also contended that the laws passed are “unconstitutional” and “anti-farmer” as it would dismantle the Agriculture Produce Market Committee system intended to ensure fair prices for farm products.“They will pave the way for cartelization and commercialization of agriculture produced and if allowed to stand will completely ruin our country as the corporates can, with one stroke, export our agriculture produce without any regulation,” one of the petitioners have submitted.