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Farmers take rest during their ongoing protest against the new farm laws, at Singhu border in New Delhi (PTI)
Farmers take rest during their ongoing protest against the new farm laws, at Singhu border in New Delhi (PTI)

SC expresses disappointment on Centre’s handling of farmers’ protest

  • The Supreme court on 12 October had issued notice to the Centre on a batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of the three contentious farm laws passed by Parliament in the monsoon session

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed disappointment with the Centre's handing of negotiations with farmers, protesting some recently passed farm laws. The top court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation the borders of the national capital.

"We are extremely disappointed at the way this issue has been handled. You tell us if you can put the laws on hold otherwise we will do it," Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said.

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The court added that its intention is to see if the government can bring about an amicable resolution to the problem. It added that it will form a committee and the matter can be then examined in detail. The order is likely to be passed by the end of the day today or tomorrow.

"...there is some sense of responsibility in showing that you will not implement the laws...then we can form a committee 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 apex court observed.

"We will advice them to approach expert committee, will accept report of committee & deal with farm laws accordingly," Bobde said.

The court observed that it cannot stop the protest but will ask farmers if the protest site can be shifted.

Attorney general KK Venugopal submitted that the decision to stay the laws will be drastic. And that they cannot be stayed unless the laws have been enacted without legislative competence, violates fundamental rights or any other provisions of the Indian constitution.

While hearing the pleas on the issue of farmers' protest, the top court had on 17 December said the agitation should be allowed to continue "without impediment" and this court will not “interfere" with it as the right to protest is a fundamental right.

In the hearing today, that lasted over two hours, the court said the protests should not stifled but there should be some communication from the lawyers of the farmers’ union to them that children, women and old people should go back in the interest of their health and safety.

The Supreme court on 12 October had issued notice to the Centre on a batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of the three contentious farm laws passed by Parliament in the monsoon session.

As per the petitioners, laws pertaining to agriculture trade are against provisions in the Indian constitution. Agriculture and agricultural trade are exclusively state subjects, the petitioners have said, adding that the laws passed are against the fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution.

The petitions have been filed against the three laws- Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.President Ram Nath Kovind on 27 September gave assent to the controversial bills passed by Parliament amid growing protest by farmer organizations.

The petitioners have sought directions from the top court for them to be struck down.

(PTI contributed to the story.)

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