- Apprentice Lawyer
The three laws, Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act & Amendment to Essential Commodities Act have been stayed until further orders.
The Court also ordered the formation of a four-member committee to hear all the parties and stakeholders and submit a report to the Court about the same.
The committee will comprise Bhupinder Singh Mann (National President of Bharatiya Kisan Union), Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati (Agricultural Economist) and Anil Ghanwat (President of Shetkari Sanghatana).
The order was pronounced by a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI), SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
While the exact scope of powers of the committee are not known yet, CJI Bobde during the hearing said that all those who are interested in solving the issue can go before the committee to present their arguments.
"Every person who is genuinely interested in solving the problem is expected to go before the Committee. The Committee will not punish you or pass any orders. It will submit a report to us," he said.
The committee is being formed so that the Court gets a clearer picture about the ground situation, CJI Bobde added while underscoring that the committee and its functioning will be considered part of the current judicial proceedings before the Supreme Court.
Senior Counsel Harish Salve told that if the laws are stayed, then the order should make it clear that its not a victory for anyone.
A detailed copy of order is expected to be published on the Supreme Court website later today.
Interestingly, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Court during the hearing on Tuesday that the Central government has received information that Khalistanis have infiltrated the farmers protests.
This submission was made after the Court inquired from Venugopal about whether or not he can confirm an allegation made in an application filed by one of the intervenors that a banned organisation is trying to fund the protests.
"Mr Attorney an allegation has been made against a banned organisation that it is trying to fund the protest.. can you confirm or deny this?", CJI Bobde asked.
"We have said that Khalistanis have infiltrated the protests," responded Venugopal while stating that Centre will place arguments to that effect on affidavit.
Venugopal submitted that there was no opposition the laws in States like Kerala and Karnataka.
He also pointed out that a tractor rally is being planned to be held on Republic Day which needs to be stopped and the Delhi police has filed an application before the Supreme Court to injunct the rally.
"Once they are allowed in the city, we don't know where all they will they be going and which all place they will go to agitate," Venugopal contended.
The Court issued notice on that application and posted it for hearing on January 18.
The Court had during the hearing of the matter on Monday, expressed its inclination to stay the contentious laws while observing that the steps taken by the Central government to break the deadlock between the government and farmers have not yielded the desired results.
Various farmers unions and organisations and individuals have assailed the three Farm Laws before the Supreme Court.
The three laws, Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act & Amendment to Essential Commodities Act have been challenged as illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional.
"They will pave the way for cartelization and commercialization of agriculture produced and if allowed to stand will completely ruin our country as the corporates can, with one stroke, export our agriculture produce without any regulation," one of the petitioners submitted.
It was also contended that the laws passed are "unconstitutional" and "anti-farmer," as it would dismantle the Agriculture Produce Market Committee system intended to ensure fair prices for farm products.
The Central government has remained steadfast in its stance that the laws are perfectly Constitutional and within the legislative competence of the Parliament.
In its affidavit filed before the top court on Monday, the Central government claimed that the Farm Laws are a result of two decades of deliberation and that "wrong perception created by non-farmer elements" about the laws needs to be cleared.
It alleged that some of the farmers were agitating against the Laws due to the "apprehensions, misgivings and misconceptions created by some vested interest people".
"(Most of) the farmers of the nation are happy as they are given an additional option over and above the existing and, therefore, no vested right is taken away," the affidavit said.