Farm stir fanned by vested interests: Govt
he central government has in the Supreme Court blamed “vested interests” for instigating the ongoing farmers’ protests, maintaining that the recently enacted farm laws have in reality received “wide acceptance” throughout the country.
In its affidavit filed hours after Monday’s hearing, the government told the court that the three legislations are a result of two decades of deliberations and that the demand to repeal them in entirety is “neither justifiable nor acceptable.”
“The Acts have received wide acceptance throughout the country and, therefore, some farmers and others objecting to the law had put a condition of its repeal, is neither justifiable nor acceptable,” said the affidavit, filed by the agriculture ministry.
The three Acts in question are The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.
Together, the laws will allow big corporations and global supermarket chains to buy directly from farmers, bypassing decades-old regulations. Farmers say the reforms would make them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations and erode the government’s procurement system.
The government submitted that the affidavit was prepared and filed “hurriedly” after the conclusion of the hearing on Monday during which the SC bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, expressed its inclination to suspend the operation of the laws while questioning the consultation process and their efficacy.
“This affidavit is filed only to remove a deliberate wrong perception created systematically by non-farmer elements present at the protest site and using media/social media, and to apprise this Hon’ble Court with true facts,” said the government.
It claimed that “the farmers of the nation are happy” as they are given an additional option over and above the existing ones. “The agitation by/in the name of some of the farmers may, therefore, not be treated as reflection on the validity of the law or its efficacy and usefulness for the farmer community,” said the affidavit.
The government said the agitation being limited to just one place in the country was an evidence that majority of farmers were not only happy with the legislations but found these legislations to be progressive and in their interest.
The affidavit said that the government wished to also dispel “the erroneous notion that the protestors have peddled that the Central Government and the Parliament never had any consultative process or examination of issues by any Committee before passing of the laws.”
Starting with the constitution of the Expert Committee in December 2000 to review the system of agricultural marketing and to recommend measures to make the system more efficient and competitive, the government adduced a brief history of various committees subsequently formed, recommendations made and consultations done with the states to augment its argument on adequate deliberation. “Government of India has been, thus, actively and intensively engaging with the States for about two decades to achieve the aforesaid objectives of reforms to provide accessible and barrier free market system for better price realization but states either showed reluctance to adopt the reforms...or made partial or cosmetic reforms,” asserted the affidavit.
“The legislations are not hurriedly made but is a result of two decades of deliberations. The farmers of the nation are happy as they are given an additional option over and above the existing and, therefore, no vested right is taken away,” it said.
According to the affidavit, talks with the farmers failed only because they insisted on repealing the laws as a precondition for talks while the government was ready to allay their apprehensions about the new laws by discussing it clause by clause.
“As a responsible Government, it has taken all conceivable steps to ensure that specific grievances of some farmers who are agitating are discussed and sorted out so far as possible...,” read the affidavit.
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