Serious, sincere and constructive efforts have been made to engage with limited number of farmers protesting at Delhi borders, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday in its effort to dispel erroneous notion that Parliament did not undertake consultative process before passing the statutes. The statement to this effect was made by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare in an affidavit which was filed hours after the apex court pulled up the Centre for its handling of the farmers protest against the new agri laws observing that it was extremely disappointed with the way negotiations between them were going. During the hearing, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde indicated that it may go to the extent of staying the implementation of the contentious farm laws and would set up a panel headed by a former Chief Justice to go to the extent of staying their implementation.
The affidavit of Sanjay Agarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, said it has been filed only to remove a deliberate wrong perception created systematically by non-farmer elements present at the protest site and using media/social media and to apprise this Court with true facts. The Secretary said the 45-page affidavit has been submitted with the purpose of dispelling the erroneous notion that the protestors have peddled that the Central Government and the Parliament never had any consultative process or examination of issues by any Committee before passing of the laws in question.
It said an impression was created during Monday's hearings that the farm laws have been passed hurriedly without undergoing any process. I am filing this reply only for the limited purpose and also to place for consideration of this court the serious, sincere and constructive efforts made by the Central Government to engage with the limited number of protesting farmers who are opposing the Act, the Secretary said.
Some of the farmers and their Unions have been agitating against farmers' friendly newly enacted Farm Reform Laws based on apprehensions, misgivings and misconceptions created by some vested interest people, which have moved from Punjab to in and around Delhi, it said. The Centre said the legislations are not hurriedly made but is a result of two decades of deliberations and 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 Central has done its best to engage with the farmers to remove any misapprehensions or misgivings in the minds of the farmers and no efforts have been found lacking, the affidavit said adding that as a responsible Government, it has taken all conceivable steps to ensure that specific grievances of some farmers who are agitating are discussed and sorted out so far as possible. It is submitted that the Acts have received wide acceptance throughout the country and, therefore, some farmers and others objecting to the law had put a condition of its repeal, is neither justifiable nor acceptable. With a view to satisfy this court that sincere and possible attempts are made to engage a constructive dialogue with agitators, the affidavit said adding that the farmer unions never agreed to discuss the farm Acts and have been demanding their repeal. It said in the meeting of January 8, 2021 again the famers groups reiterated the demand of repeal and did not agree to discuss on the merits of the enactments in the interest of the farmers at large. It is submitted that, with mutual consent, the talks are now slated for January 15.
The laws are applicable throughout the country and the agitation being limited to only one place out of the whole country is witness to the fact that majority of farmers are not only happy with the legislations but are finding these legislations to be progressive and in their interest as substantially they are having one more option to sell their agricultural produces than the existing APMC option, it said. The agitation by/in the name of some of the farmers may, therefore, not be treated as reflection on the validity of the law or its efficacy and usefulness for the framers community, it said and added that it is necessary to point out that in and around the National Capital Region territory, seven roads are fully blocked by the protestors and separately, four raods are partially blocked [one side blocked] by the protestors. The Republic day function on January 26 has its own constitutional as well as historical significance, it said adding, Any disruption or obstruction in the said functions would not only be against the law and order, public order, public interest but would also be a huge embarrassment for the nation.
It said the need for new laws were felt due to the globalization of economy and consolidation of economic activities in various sectors at the national level and the agriculture field was lagging behind. It is submitted that the need for reforms in agriculture marketing sector was felt and conceived in late nineties after kick-start of economic liberalization in the beginning of nineties so as to ensure better and competitive price realisation to the farmers and encourage capital formation in the sector, it said. Under the system prior to new regime, Farmers under State APMC Acts are bound to sell the scheduled agricultural produce to the limited number of traders licensed under the said Act and that too in distantly located specified place, it said.