Farmers raise slogans during the ongoing protest against the new farm laws at Haryana-Rajasthan border. (HT Photo)
Farmers raise slogans during the ongoing protest against the new farm laws at Haryana-Rajasthan border. (HT Photo)

Supreme Court stays implementation of farm laws, forms 4-member committee

The Supreme Court said it is willing to suspend the laws but not indefinitely.
By HT Correspondent | Edited by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 12, 2021 03:31 PM IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of the three farm laws till further orders and decided to set up a four-member committee to resolve the deadlock between the Centre and farmers' unions over them. A bench, which was headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, justice AS Bopanna and justice V Ramasubramanian, said that it will pass an order to this effect later.

The top court stayed the implementation of the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act after several petitions were filed challenging their constitutional validity.

The bench the four-member committee will look into the farmers' grievances on the issue. HS Mann, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, president of Maharashtra's Shetkeri Sangthana, Anil Ghanwat; Pramod Kumar Joshi, the director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati will be the members of the panel, it said.

"We are forming a committee so that we have a clearer picture. We don't want to hear arguments that farmers will not go to the committee. We are looking to solve the problem. If you (farmers) want to agitate indefinitely, you can do so," CJI Bobde said.

Farmers' leaders welcomed the Supreme Court's order but said they would not call off their protest until the legislations are repealed. The Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of around 40 protesting farmers' unions, has called a meeting later in the day to decide the next course of action.


The bench was hearing a batch of petitions, including those filed by DMK lawmaker Tiruchi Siva, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Manoj K Jha, regarding the constitutional validity of the farm laws, passed by the central government in September last year, and the plea to disperse protesting farmers from the borders of the national capital.

The three-judge bench had earlier said that it is willing to suspend the laws but not indefinitely without any activity going on both sides.

The top court had said on Monday it is “extremely disappointed" with the way negotiations between the Centre and the farmers' representative were going while hearing a bunch of petitions on the farm laws.

Also read | Put farm laws on hold, or we will, SC tells govt

It also indicated that the three contentious laws will have to be put on hold for creating an atmosphere conducive for talks.

The bench had also asked the Centre if it was willing to pause the implementation of the laws, saying it will do it otherwise. Attorney General KK Venugopal was asked to come back with a response.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the farmers' unions, was also asked to consult the farmers and inform the court if they were willing to join the deliberations before a committee, which the court proposed to constitute for resolving the issues.

However, late on Monday evening, the unions issued a statement that they would not want to go before the proposed committee. According to the unions, it would not make any sense to go before the committee after the government's affidavit which maintained that laws will not be repealed.

Also read | PM should apologise to farmers, says Oppn

Eight rounds of talks have been held between the Centre and the farmer unions but have failed to end the deadlock as the government ruled out repealing the contentious laws while the farmer leaders said their 'ghar wapsi will happen only after law wapsi'.

The top court had earlier sought the Centre's response on a batch of pleas against the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping on Delhi's borders since November 26.

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