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Prior Expression of View Doesn't Mean One Can't Be in a Committee, Says SC Amid Criticism of Panel on Farm Laws

File photo of the Supreme Court

File photo of the Supreme Court

The remarks of the apex court assumes importance as some of the members of the recently constituted committee to resolve the deadlock between farmers and the centre over the farm laws had earlier reportedly expressed their views on the subject.

An earlier expression of view does not mean that a person cannot be appointed in a particular committee on that issue as the opinion can also change, observed the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The remarks of the apex court, which also said there is a "peculiar lack of comprehension" about constitution of a panel, assumes importance as some of the members of the recently constituted committee to resolve the deadlock between farmers and the centre over the farm laws had earlier reportedly expressed their views on the subject.

One of the members, Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, had last week said he was recusing himself from the four-member committee. However, a bench headed by chief justice S A Bobde, which was hearing another matter, said, "A committee is appointed and if the person has expressed his views earlier on the issue, then it does not mean that the person cannot be in the committee. There is a very peculiar lack of comprehension about constitution of a committee, said the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran, which was hearing a matter relating to inadequacies and deficiencies in criminal trials.

The bench observed that one person may have a view on the issue before being part of the committee but that opinion can change. In an "extraordinary" interim order on January 12, the apex court had stayed the implementation of the new farm laws till further orders and constituted a four-member panel to listen to the grievances and make recommendations to resolve the impasse.

The committee comprises of Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President of Bhartiya Kisan Union, All India Kisan Coordination Committee; 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.

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 19, 2021, 19:48 IST
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