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Farmer Union in SC: Remove Remaining Members of Panel on Agri Laws, Select New People

The Supreme Court of India. (Image: PTI)

The Supreme Court of India. (Image: PTI)

In an affidavit, it also sought dismissal of a plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26.

A farmer union requested the Supreme Court on Saturday to remove the remaining three members of the committee it had set up to resolve the impasse over the three contentious farm laws, and select people who can do the job "on the basis of mutual harmony". The Bhartiya Kisan Union Lokshakti said the principle of natural justice is going to be violated as those appointed to the four-member committee "have already supported these laws".

In an affidavit, it also sought dismissal of a plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde had agreed to hear on January 18 the Centre's application against the proposed tractor march.

The Bhartiya Kisan Union Lokshakti is one of the 40-odd farmer unions spearheading the agitation on various border points of Delhi for about 50 days now, demanding repeal of the farm laws. In an "extraordinary" interim order, the top court had stayed the implementation of the new farm laws till further orders and had constituted the four-member committee to listen to the grievances and make recommendations to resolve the impasse.

The committee comprised Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of Bhartiya Kisan Union; Dr Parmod Kumar Joshi, 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 of Shetkari Sanghatana. However, on January 14, Mann recused himself from the committee.

The Bhartiya Kisan Union Lokshakti, in its reply filed through lawyer A P Singh, urged the top court "to remove all these three members from the committee and appoint those persons who make the report on the basis of mutual harmony…." "It is important to mention here with great regret that the principle of natural justice is going to be violated by making these persons as members of the committee…. how they will hear all farmers on equal parameters when they have already supported these laws," it said. On the issue of the Delhi Police seeking injunction against the tractor rally, it said prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144 were already in place in the New Delhi area.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws — the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act. Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.

The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.

first published:January 16, 2021, 16:21 IST
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