Form panel to resolve farmers' blockade, include 8 unions: SC
New Delhi, December 16, 2020
The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that if urgent measures are not taken now, then the ongoing farmers' protest may spiral out of the government's hand to become a national issue.
Against this backdrop, it ordered eight farmer unions be made party to the PIL seeking removal of farmers from various Delhi borders, and a joint hearing of the Centre and the farmers' unions on Thursday in a bid to end the impasse.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and comprising Justices A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, proposed forming a committee, including the representatives of both the Centre, farmer unions and other relevant stakeholders, to arrive at some acceptable solution.
The Chief Justice told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that the government's negotiations may not work.
"You should be willing to negotiate and we should have a farmers' union before us," said the Chief Justice, seeking names of the farmer unions.
Emphasising on forming a committee comprising farmers unions from the country, the Chief Justice said: "This will soon become a national issue.it seems government may not able to work it out."
The top court in its order gave permission to implead the farmer unions -- Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Rakesh Tikait), BKU-Sidhupur (Jagjeet S. Dallewal), BKU-Rajewal (Balbeer Singh Rajewal), BKU-Lakhowal (Harinder Singh Lakhowal), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha (Kulwant Singh Sandhu), BKU-Dakaunda (Buta Singh Burjgill), BKU-Doaba (Manjit Singh Rai) and Kul Hind Kisan Federation (Prem Singh Bhangu) - in the PILs seeking removal of farmers from Delhi borders.
During the hearing, the bench observed the situation warrants an urgent resolution measures through negotiations, as the agitating farmers at the Delhi borders not appearing to be in a mood to talk.
The Chief Justice told Mehta that the government negotiations may fail, therefore, it is necessary to have some farmer unions appear before the court to explain the matter.
Mehta informed the top court that the government will not do anything against the interest of the farmers and it is willing to address the ongoing impasse by having discussion on clauses in the laws. He, however, insisted there should an open-minded discussion, and the farmers union should not insist on repealing the farm laws.
The top court issued notice to the Centre on the PILs seeking removal of farmers, who have blocked various Delhi borders. The petitioner, during the hearing, cited the top court order in the Shaheen Bagh matter, where it had said that the "protesters cannot block public roads".
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said that the Supreme Court proposal is a "moral victory" for the agitating farmers, adding that the agitation will continue till the three farm laws are repealed.
In a statement, the AIKSCC said, "Supreme Court advice to the government is a moral victory for farmers. Farmers have always been ready to put forward their views, but the agitation in Delhi will continue until the three Acts and EB 2020 are withdrawn, even if a committee is formed."
The AIKSCC said that the committee formation will be fruitful only after the laws are withdrawn and the representatives of all national and regional farmers organisations are represented in a decisive manner and should therefore be done only after repeal of the Acts.
It further criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for claiming that farmers were being fooled by the opposition while it is "he who is fooling them".
"He is repeating his earlier explanation that farmers would not lose land, that minimum support price (MSP) and government procurement will continue, that the laws create opportunities for farmers, etc. even though his actions prove the opposite," it said.
The AIKSCC said that on Tuesday, the Prime Minister made a wrong claim that milk production has been promoted by non-government private sector, while it is the government-aided cooperative sector which has helped milk farmers and later entry of private sector stressed the milk sector.
The AIKSCC said that its working group has called for observing December 20 as 'Shraddhanjali Diwas' from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in each and every village in memory of the 30 farmers from Punjab and Haryana, who have died during this indefinite protest from November 26.