A joint front of 40 agitating farmer unions on Monday welcomed the suggestion of the Supreme Court for a stay on the agri laws implementation but said they are not willing to participate in any proceedings before a committee that may be appointed by it. Pulling up the Centre for its handling of the farmers’ protest, the apex court on Monday said it is extremely disappointed with the way negotiations between them were going and will constitute a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India to resolve the impasse.
While all organisations welcome the suggestions of the Supreme Court to stay the implementation of the farm laws, they are collectively and individually not willing to participate in any proceedings before a committee that may be appointed by it, a statement issued by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha said. “We met our lawyers this evening and after deliberation on the pros and cons of the suggestions, we informed them that we are unanimously not agreeable to go before any committee that may be appointed by the Supreme Court today due to the stubborn attitude of the government,” it read.
The umbrella body said the apex court was requested by their lawyers and by other counsel, including Harish Salve, to fix the next hearing on Tuesday to enable them to consult the farmer unions and seek their consent to the suggestion of the SC. “We have been told that no such hearing has been fixed for tomorrow as per the cause list already published for tomorrow till 9 PM and that only the matters are listed for pronouncements for order by the court. These events have deeply disappointed us, our lawyers and also farmers at large,” the Morcha said.
Earlier in the day, farmer leaders said they would continue their agitation even if the government or the Supreme Court stays the implementation of the new agri laws. The farmer leaders, who said they were sharing their “personal opinion”, were also of the view that a stay is “not a solution” as it is only for a fixed period of time.
They were reacting after the Supreme Court indicated that it may stay the implementation of the contentious farm laws and refused to grant more time to the Centre to explore the possibility of an amicable solution saying it has already granted the government a long rope. “We welcome the Supreme Court observation, but ending the protest is not an option. Any stay is only for a fixed period of time… till the issue is taken up by the court again,” Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union President Gurnam Singh Chaduni said.
The farmers want the laws to be repealed completely. The protest will continue even if the government or the Supreme Court stays their implementation, he said. National spokesperson of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Rakesh Tikait said the Supreme Court’s observations were “a slap on the face of the central government” and demanded the resignation of Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
He was addressing the national executive committee of BKU at UP-gate -Ghazipur border. Bhog Singh Mansa, president of Indian Farmers Union (Mansa), said a stay on the laws is “no big deal”‘.
“A stay on the laws is not a solution. We are here to get these laws scrapped completely… the government has in a way already agreed to scrap the laws when it said it is willing to incorporate as many amendments as farmers want,” he said. “We appeal to the Supreme Court to terminate these laws as these are not valid constitutionally,” Mansa said, adding the protest will continue till ‘the laws are not repealed or the BJP government completes its tenure’.
Punjab Kisan Union president Ruldu Singh Mansa echoed similar sentiments, saying the agitation started with the demand of scrapping the agri laws and “it will end only when we win this fight”. Eight rounds of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions have failed to end the deadlock as the Centre ruled out repealing the contentious laws while the farmer leaders said their ‘ghar waapsi will happen only after law waapsi’.
The apex court had earlier sought the Centre’s response on a batch of pleas against the three contentious farm laws — the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. Hundreds of agitating farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping on Delhi’s borders since November 26.