New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, January 12, suspended the implementation or operation of the three contentious farm laws until further orders and set up a panel comprising experts and farmers' leaders to hear the contending parties and resolve the two-month-long impasse.
The laws in contention are: Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act & Amendment to Essential Commodities Act.
Farmers have been demanding to repeal these laws while the government has repeatedly rejected the plea. The four-member committee set up by the Supreme Court would comprise of Bhupinder Singh Mann of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Anil Ghanwat of Shetkari Sanghatana, Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi and agricultural economist Ashok Gulati.
“We cannot keep the farm laws abeyance for nothing. There must be progress to resolve the issue," Chief Justice S A Bobde said. The bench said, "This is not politics. There is a difference between politics and judiciary and you will have to cooperate". The apex court bench is headed by Chief Justice Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
In a significant development during the argument, P S Narasimha, who represented a petitioner supporting the farm laws enacted by the Modi government, claimed members of ‘Sikhs for Justice’ which had backed Khalistani movement were helping the protests.
Chief Justice said, "There is an application before us which says that there is a banned organisation which is helping this protest". He wanted to know if Attorney General, K K Venugopal could deny or confirm on this.
Responding to this, Venugopal said - "We have said (earlier) that the Khalistanis have infiltrated the protest". "If there is an infiltration....file an affidavit by tomorrow," said the Chief Justice.
The Attorney General confirmed that an affidavit will be filed. Sources said the government may place Intelligence Bureau (IB) reports too before the bench. It may be mentioned here that on Jan 8, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava reacting on the reports of the presence of Canadian MP Ramandeep Brar at farmers’ protest at Delhi border, stated that MEA has noted these reports and "we are ascertaining the facts".
The court on Tuesday also made it clear that the protestors could seek permission from Delhi police for organising the protest at the Ram Lila Ground and if such a permission is granted the protesters have to scrupulously abide by the norms set by the police.
Farmers have been protesting at different borders of the national capital since November 26, 2020.
Meanwhile, later in the day, the farmer unions said they will not participate in any court-ordered committee process. “It is clear that the Court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee. These are people who are known for their support to the three Acts and have actively advocated for the same,” said a statement from the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee.