Farmer union seeks removal of 3 committee members alleging bias, appeals to SC
- In its response, BKU-Lokshakti through its advocate AP Singh told the Court that the Delhi Police application was unnecessary as Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code is already in place in central Delhi which restricts gathering of five or more persons.
In a vote of no confidence against the Supreme Court-appointed four-member Committee to resolve farmers’ concerns over the three farm laws, one of the protesting farmers' groups has asked the Supreme Court to remove the three members who remain in the Committee after one of the members, Bhupinder Singh Mann refused to be part of the Committee proceedings.
The demand was raised by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Lokshakti in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court on Saturday alleging bias against the three members in favour of the farm laws. The affidavit came in response to an application moved by the Delhi Police seeking a stay on any disruption of the Republic Day proceedings by the protesting farmer unions. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde had issued notice on this application last Tuesday and posted the same for hearing on January 18.
In its response, BKU-Lokshakti through its advocate AP Singh told the Court that the Delhi Police application was unnecessary as Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code is already in place in central Delhi which restricts gathering of five or more persons.
The affidavit then proceeded to address its concerns over the composition of the Committee. It said, “The principle of natural justice is going to get violated by forming these persons as members of the Committee. Members appointed by the Supreme Court, how they will hear all the farmers on equal parameters when they have already supported these three farm Law.” Instead, the farmer union has requested appointment of a former Supreme Court judge along with farm leaders of protesting farmer unions.
The Court had on January 12 formed a four-member Committee to hear out the protesting farmers and submit a report to the Court after eight weeks. The members were Bhupinder Singh Mann (National President, BKU and All India Kisan Coordination Committee), Pramod Kumar Joshi (Agricultural Economist, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute), Ashok Gulati, Agricultural Economist and Former Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, and Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sanghatana. The Committee was to hold its first sitting by January 22. The Court directed the Committee to listen to the grievances of the farmers on the farm laws as also the views of the Government and make recommendations.
Two days later, Mann refused to join the Committee proceedings in solidarity with the farmer protests leaving just three members. The response by BKU-Lokshakti referred to news clippings where the three members had openly supported the farm laws and criticized protesting farmers of being misled by political parties.
“When all committee members appointed by the Supreme Court are already in favour of these three farm laws and already support the laws made and passed by the Central government without enough discussion with farmers, then how can they make fair report without any bias before the Court,” the BKU-Lokshakti said.
The union requested the Court to “remove all three members from the committee” and appoint persons who would prepare the report on basis of “mutual harmony” and who can “think about the interest of farmers with impartiality, trust and goodwill.” The union requested the Court to appoint independent, impartial persons such as former Supreme Court judge and include within the Committee the President of BKU-Lokshakti among other farmers’ organization leaders participating in the protests.
The apex court on Tuesday had stayed the implementation of the three laws in question, namely Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.
While passing the order, the bench, also comprising of Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, “While we may not stifle a peaceful protest, we think that this extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will be perceived as an achievement of the purpose of such protest at least for the present and will encourage the farmers bodies to convince their members to get back to their livelihood, both in order to protect their own lives and health and in order to protect the lives and properties of others.”
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