Supreme Court Stays Farm Laws; Says It Will Assuage Hurt Feelings Of Farmers For The Time Being

  • Lawbeat News Network
  • 07:40 PM, 12 Jan 2021

Read Time: 12 minutes

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of the three farm laws; Farmers’ produce trade and commerce (promotion and facilitation) act, 2020, Essential commodities (amendment) act, 2020; and Farmers (empowerment and protection) agreement on price assurance and farm services act, 2020.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun is of the considered view that the staying 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.

The bench has also formulated a Committee for purposes of effectuating a Consultative dialogue between the stakeholders involved. This name's of the panelists on the Committee will include:

1. Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee;

2. Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi, Agricultural Economist, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute

3. Anil Gulati, Agricultural Economist and Former Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices

4. Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sanghatana

Court also went to on pass some interim directions in this regard which include the following:

The MSP that existed before the enactment of the Farm Laws shall be maintained until further orders and also that the farmer’s land holdings shall be protected. (this means that no farmer shall be deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the Farm laws).

The committee which has been constituted shall work for the purpose of addressing the grievances of the farmers relating to farm laws and the views of the Government and to make recommendations:

- This committee shall be provided a place as well as Secretarial assistance at Delhi by the Government;

- All the expenses for the committee shall be borne by the Central Government;

- All the representatives of all the farmers’ bodies shall participate in the deliberations of the committee and put forth their viewpoints;

- This committee is required to submit a Report before this Court containing its recommendations after it has heard the government as well as the representatives of the farmers’ bodies;

- The submission of this report shall be done within two months from the date of its first meeting.

While highlighting the basis of it's action, the Court has stated that it is not completely powerless to to grant stay of any executive action under a statutory enactment. In order to earmark this, the Court has cited the Maharashtra Reservation Case [Dr. Jaishri Laxamnrao Patil Vs. The Chief Minister & Anr. (Civil Appeal No. 3123 of 2020)] in which the court directed that admissions to educational institutions for the Academic Year 2020-21 and that appointments to public services and posts under the Government, shall be made without reference to the reservation provided under the impugned legislation, i.e. Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.

It was also confirmed by the learned Solicitor General that there are inherent safeguards, in-built in the Farm Laws, for the protection of the land of the farmers and therefore it will be ensured that no farmer loses his land.

On January 11, the bench had expressed concerns regarding impending violence that may erupt at the farmer's protest site.

The top court asked Centre to stay the laws till a committee constituted by it discusses the same and submits a report.

“Let those farmer unions who say it is progressive, say that before the committee. But you have to tell us whether you stay the farm acts or we do it. Keep it in abeyance. What is the issue? We are not in favour of easily staying a law but we want to say don’t implement the law,” the top court said.

While adding that the court was not presently concerned about the merits of the legislation but with the ground situation at the Protest site, the bench said that it was it's bounden duty to protect citizens and properties as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Attorney General KK Venugopal had informed the Court that the parties had rejected various orders put forth to them and opposed the proposition of the top court to stay the operation of farm laws while citing judgments stipulating separation of powers.

This is when the Chief Justice expressed disappointment at the way negotiations were proceeding between the Government and the protesting farmers. He added that there was no response on whether the Centre was willing to put the law on hold. 

CJI SA Bobde also expressed grave concern with regard to the presence of old persons and women at the site.
He added that there were reports to suggest that people at protest sites were committing suicide and were suffering in the cold weather.

The apex court has suggested names of former CJIs including RM Lodha to head panel for exploring the possibility of a solution over farm laws protests.

The bench was considering writ petitions filed by Advocate ML Sharma, Chattisgarh Kisan Congress and DMP MP Tiruchi Siva.

The petitions challenge the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Agriculture and Promotion) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

The bench said it will pass orders on the issue in parts.

Talks between the Centre and farmer unions on the new agriculture laws failed to make any headway even after the eighth round of talks. The Centre and the farmer leaders are scheduled to hold their next meeting on January 15.

Case Title: Rakesh Vaishnav & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors.

Statute/Law point involved: Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Agriculture and Promotion) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020