Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 10
After the failure of the eighth round of negotiations between the Government and farmers’ unions, all eyes are on the Supreme Court which will on Monday take up petitions challenging the farm laws and those seeking removal of farmers who have blocked key entry points to Delhi since November 26.
A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde – which had on December 17 indicated constituting a committee of independent and impartial persons to end the stalemate – is expected to attempt a solution to end the stalemate.
With both the sides refusing to budge from their respective stand, the eighth round of talks between agitating farmers and the Centre failed to break the deadlock on January 8.
As farmers’ leaders insisted on withdrawal of the three farm laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar made it clear that the government will not repeal the laws even as it was ready to address their grievances. The next round of talks is proposed on January 15.
During the crucial hearing, the top court is to hear three sets of petitions. The first set of PILs is by Congress MP from Trissur in Kerala TN Prathapan, DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, RJD MP Manoj Jha, Bhartiya Kisan Party and advocate ML Sharma.
They have challenged the validity of the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. They contended the farm laws were “discriminatory” and will expose marginal farmers to exploitation by big companies.
Read also: Farmers ransack Khattar’s Kisan Mahapanchayat venue
The second set of petitions is by Rishabh Sharma and others highlighting the plight of commuters entering the national capital due to continued blockade by agitating farmers. On Saturday, he filed an affidavit in the top court complaining that the farmers have blocked Noida Chilla Border, Tikri Border, Sindhu Border, Gazipur Border, Delhi-Rohtak National Highway, causing hardships to those entering Delhi from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Citing the top court’s verdict on Shaheen Bagh protests that said public places can’t be blocked and occupied indefinitely, he said the protesters must be removed as they violated the court’s verdict.
The third set of plea is by the Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA) — a Hyderabad-based farmers’ organization – which contended that the reforms were beneficial for growth of agriculture in India.
“We wish (to) submit that farm reforms are beneficial to enable increased income to farmers and growth of agriculture,” the consortium’s plea filed through CIFA advisor P Chengal Reddy said, demanding to be heard before any decision was taken.
Noting that there was no improvement in talks between agitating farmers and the government, the Supreme Court on January 6 said it would take up petitions against farm laws and those against farmers’ protests on January 11. “There is absolutely no improvement in the situation,” CJI Bobde had said.
A day later, the CJI had expressed concern over the possible spread of COVID-19 among the agitating farmers and asked the Centre if they were taking precautionary measures against the pandemic. “We are trying to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread. Ensure guidelines issued are followed,” he had said.