Cabinet set to approve draft legislation to repeal contentious farm laws
The Union cabinet is likely to approve a proposal to repeal three contentious farm laws this week following which Parliament will take up repealing bills to give effect to their revocation, officials aware of the development have said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 19 announced that his government would revoke the laws that had drawn out tens of thousands of farmers in protests after a year of being passed.
“There will be corresponding repealing bills, which after being approved by the Cabinet will be tabled in Parliament during the winter session as announced by the PM,” one of the officials said.
Parliament will convene for its winter session on November 29.
Under Article 245, Parliament is vested with powers to both pass and annul laws. If Parliament is in recess, the government can repeal or enact laws by bringing in an ordinance, which needs to be ratified by Parliament later.
The legislative process of passing, amending or scrapping legislation is largely the same, experts said. A fresh repealing bill needs to be approved by Parliament in case of junking an existing law.
“Three separate repealing laws will be needed if the existing laws were separately legislated,” said GC Malhotra, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha.
The three farm laws that will be repealed are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
The laws the government said would be annulled were aimed to ease restrictions on trade in farm produce, allow food traders to stockpile large stocks of food for future sales and lay down a national framework for contract farming based on written agreement.
Farm unions say the legislation would leave them at the mercy of large corporations, leaving them with little bargaining power.
The decision to scrap the laws comes ahead of crucial state elections in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous, bellwether state, and Punjab, where farmers are an influential voting bloc.