New Delhi: A Congress MP from Kerala moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the constitutional validity of various provisions of the contentious new farm Act. TN Prathapan, who represents Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala, has alleged that the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 is violative of Article 14 (right to equality), 15 (prohibition of discrimination) and 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution. He said the law, which was accorded presidential assent on Sunday, is "liable to be struck down as unconstitutional, illegal and void".
As per the government, the new law intends to provide a national framework for the farming agreements to protect and empower farmers as they engage with agri-business and food processing firms, wholesalers, exporters and large retailers for farm services and sale of produce at a remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner. Prathapan, in the plea filed through lawyer James P Thomas, said: "Indian Agriculture is characterised by fragmentation due to small holdings and has certain inherent weaknesses beyond control such as dependence on weather, uncertainties in production and an unpredictable market. This makes agriculture risky and inefficient in respect of both input and output management." It said the challenges faced by farmers such as dependence on weather, cannot be addressed by monetisation of the produce to increase their income, instead strengthening the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system by infusing more capital and effective management of Minimum Support Price.
"The number of farmers that the Centre assumed for calculating the cost of PM-Kisan scheme is from the Agriculture Census of 2015-16, which had put the number of operational agriculture landholdings in the country at 14.5 crore. "The matter is of substantial public interest and is emergent as there is need for striking down laws which violate the rights of the 14.5 crore citizens who are engaged in farming before serious financial damage is caused to them and the families of such persons," it said. The petition challenged constitutionality of various Sections of the farm law — 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 14, 18 and 19. Some parts of the country have been witnessing farmer protests on the issue.