Supreme Court seeks reply on farm laws
The Supreme Court set the ball rollingon Mondayon the challenge to the three crucial farm reform laws enacted by the Centre, seeking a response in four weeks to three separate petitions.
On a petition filed by a group of farmers from Chhattisgarh, led by Chhattisgarh Kisan Congress vice president Rakesh Vaishnav, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde agreed that since the issue was already pending consideration with the Chhattisgarh and Allahabad high courts, it would be prudent to examine the constitutional questions of law arising from the three laws at one forum.
The three laws are the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. These were enacted by Parliament on September 24 and have since been notified after receiving Presidential assent.
The top two law officers of the country – attorney general KK Venugopal and solicitor general Tushar Mehta -- appeared for the Centre along with additional solicitor general (ASG) KM Nataraj, anticipating this order.
The bench, also comprising justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said: “You (Centre) have to file a response somewhere, whether before this court or any high courts.” A-G Venugopal requested for six weeks’ time to file a reply but the bench posted the petitions for hearing after four weeks.
The court also issued notice on two separate petitions raising a similar challenge. These were filed by two Members of Parliament – Tiruchi Siva from Tamil Nadu’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Manoj Kumar Jha from Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
The court did not entertain a petition filed by a lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma, claiming that “no cause of action” was pointed out in his plea. He was allowed to withdraw it. The presence of three law officers to represent for Centre was noted by the bench. “We find AG, SG and ASG in a case where there is no cause of action. In common parlance it is called overkill.” The court is of the view that “mere passing of the law does not give rise to cause of action” for a law to be challenged.