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SC stays farm laws' implementation, sets up expert panel to resolve issue
New Delhi, January 12, 2021
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will encourage the farmers' bodies to convince their members to get back to their livelihoods, both in order to protect their own lives and health and in order to protect the lives and properties of others.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and comprising Justices A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian observed that the negotiations between the farmers' bodies and the government have not yielded any result so far.
"Therefore, we are of the view that the constitution of a committee of experts in the field of agriculture to negotiate between the farmers' bodies and the government of India may create a congenial atmosphere," it said in its order.
Justifying the stay on implementation of farm laws, the top court said: "We deem it fit to pass the following interim order, with the hope and expectation that both parties will take this in the right spirit and attempt to arrive at a fair, equitable and just solution to the problems."
The bench added this step would improve the trust and confidence of the farmers. "We are also of the view that a stay of implementation of all the three farm laws for the present, may assuage the hurt feelings of the farmers and encourage them to come to the negotiating table with confidence and good faith," it said, reiterating that it has no intention to stifle a peaceful protest.
The committee comprises four members: Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi, Agricultural Economist, and 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 top court said the committee has been constituted for the purpose of listening to the grievances of the farmers relating to the farm laws and the views of the government and to make recommendations. The bench added that the representatives of all the farmers' bodies, whether they are holding a protest or not and whether they support or oppose the laws, shall participate in the deliberations of the committee and put forth their view points.
"The Committee shall, upon hearing the government as well as the representatives of the farmers' bodies, and other stakeholders, submit a report before this court containing its recommendations. This shall be done within two months from the date of its first sitting. The first sitting shall be held within ten days from today," said the top court. The bench has scheduled the matter for further hearing after eight weeks.
The top court noted that as a consequence of staying the farm laws, the Minimum Support Price System in existence before the enactment of the laws should be maintained until further orders. "In addition, the farmers' land holdings shall be protected, i.e., no farmer shall be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the Farm Laws," it said in the order.