Supreme Court stays implementation of 3 controversial farm laws

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2021

Farmer leaders on Tuesday said they welcome the Supreme Court order staying the implementation of the three farm laws till further orders, but will continue to protest till the contentious legislations are repealed.

Pramod Joshi: In an article he co-authored in December, the agriculture economist wrote that the farmers were "changing goalposts before every negotiation" with the Centre and said that the new laws "provide alternative marketing opportunities".

The Bench lauded the farmers for carrying out their agitation against the farm laws peacefully.

Tens of thousands of farmers will continue their protests against India's new farm laws until they are repealed, rejecting the top court's decision to keep them in abeyance and adding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's woes.

"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 court said, making it obligatory for agitating farmers to appear before the expert committee.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde said, "We are going to suspend the implementation of the three farm laws until further orders". "We were confident that the Centre will get a committee formed through Supreme Court to take the burden off their shoulders".

"While we may not stifle a peaceful protest, we think that this extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will be perceived as an achievement of the goal of such protest at least for the present and will encourage the farmers bodies to convince their members to get back to their livelihood, both in order to protect their own lives and health and in order to protect the lives and properties of others", the Bench said and posted the matter for further hearing after eight weeks.

Addressing a press conference at Singhu (Delhi-Haryana) border, farmer leaders claimed the members of the committee formed by the top court are "pro-government".

The court asserted it had the power to suspend the legislation, but the stay must not be for an empty goal.

After repealing the "black laws" that, they say, only serve corporate interests and will be a "death warrant" for farmers, the government should hold a dialogue with farmers and bring in new laws to reform agriculture.

"We expect to mobilise up to two million farmers across the country on January 26", Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Jamhuri Kisan Sabha, one of the main farm unions, told Reuters.

The court also hoped its "extraordinary order" of stay of implementation of the laws will be perceived as an achievement, and encourage farmers to go back to their homes. "That is why we are forming the committee", the bench told the parties appearing in the case.

"It is clear that the court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee".

The order, an attempt to find a way out of the stalemate between the government and protesters, comes a day after Justice Bobde said the court was "extremely disappointed at the way the government has handled all this".

"Some members of the committee have already backed the farm laws and this is more like dilly-dallying". This committee will submit a report to the court in two months from the first meeting, which is due to be held in 10 days, the court said.

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