'We encourage consultation', says SC on farmers-Centre talks; many in support of farm laws, claims Tomar

FP Staff
·6-min read

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would hear a clutch of petitions challenging the three new farm laws and those related to the ongoing farmers' protest at Delhi borders on 11 January as the agitation enters its 42nd day.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde was informed by the Centre that "healthy discussions" are going on between the government and farmers over these issues. However, the court remarked that there is "no improvement" on the ground regarding farmers' protests.

Meanwhile, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said a large number of farmers from across the country are coming out in support of three farm laws and urged protesting unions to understand the sentiments behind reforms brought through these legislations.

He also expressed confidence that the protesting unions will focus on farmers' interests and help the government reach a solution through constructive dialogue.

Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping out on roads around New Delhi, for more than a month, braving the bitter cold and continuous rain over the last few days. They insist that the government withdraw the laws and guarantee a minimum support price for their produce.

Seven rounds of talks between the government and representatives of protesting farmers have failed to resolve a long-running agitation against the three laws enacted in September. While the government has presented these new laws as major reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income and improving their lives, the protesting groups see these legislations as pro-businesses and against the current MSP and mandi systems.

The next round of talks with protesting unions is scheduled for 8 January, while the government has been also separately meeting various farm groups that have extended support to the laws.

'We encourage consultation', says Supreme Court

The apex court on Wednesday said it would hear a clutch of petitions challenging the three new farm laws and those related to the ongoing farmers' protest at Delhi borders on 11 January. While adjourning the matter, the bench headed by CJI SA Bobde noted that there has been no "improvement on the ground" in connection with the stalemate between the Centre and the farmers.

Attorney General KK Venugopal said there is a good chance that parties may come to a conclusion in the near future and filing of response by the Centre on the pleas challenging the new farm laws might foreclose the negotiations between the farmers and government.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, while informing the bench that talks are going on between the government and farmers in a healthy atmosphere, said that these matters should not be listed for hearing on 8 January.

"We understand the situation and encourage consultation. We can adjourn the matters on Monday (11 January) if you submit the same due to the ongoing consultation process," the bench said.

In an earlier hearing on 17 December, the top court had said that the agitation should be allowed to continue without impediment and this court will not interfere with it as the right to protest is a fundamental right.

Unions will actively arrive at solution after discussion: Narendra Tomar

In another related development, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said a large number of farmers from across the country are coming out in support of three farm laws and urged protesting unions to understand the sentiments behind reforms brought through these legislations.

He also expressed confidence that the protesting unions will focus on farmers' interests and help the government reach a solution through constructive dialogue.

Speaking to reporters after meeting a group supporting the laws, Tomar said the government is committed towards all farmers of the country and their interests.

"Therefore, we are meeting those farmers who are coming out in support of the three laws, in addition to a continuing dialogue with those opposing the Acts," the minister said.

He further said, "A large number of farmers from across the country are coming out in support of the laws. We are meeting them and also getting their letters and phone calls. We welcome and thank all of them."

"I am confident that protesting unions will also understand the sentiments behind the farm reform laws and will focus on farmers' interests and will surely help us reach a solution through a constructive dialogue," Tomar said.

Earlier in the day, the minister met the All India Farmers Association (AIFA), which submitted a representation in support of the new farm laws.

Ex-PM Lal Bahadur Shastri's grandson extends support to farm laws

The AIFA headed by former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's grandson Sanjay Nath Singh on Wednesday extended support to the three new agriculture laws against which 40 farmers' unions have been protesting at various borders of the national capital for over a month now.

Singh, in a representation made to Tomar, made some suggestions to the Centre that would be of help in negotiating with the protesting farm unions in the next round of meeting to be held on 8 January.

The AIFA recommended setting up of an independent regulatory body to monitor farm contracts, a price regulatory authority to monitor purchase and sale price of farm produce, enforcement of a template of contract agreement among others, he said.

"With these suggestions, we request you Sir (Tomar) to negotiate with farmer leaders to reach an early resolution. We are hopeful of you achieving success and request that the new farm laws are not rolled back," he said.

Stating that the new legislations are a "watershed moment" for Indian agriculture, Singh said though the minimum support price (MSP) and APMC mandi system are working well in Punjab, Haryana and parts of western Uttar Pradesh, farmers of these states had "apprehension" about the new laws and the Centre has done its best to "allay" their fears.

He further said, "it appears that the vested interest and political opportunists are continuing to mislead them".

Congress leaders take out tractor rally against farm laws in MP

Senior Congress leaders on Wednesday took out a tractor rally in Madhya Pradesh's Sehore, which is state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's home district, to protest against the Centre's new farm laws.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, former Union minister Arun Yadav, former minister Sajjan Singh Verma and several party MLAs took part in the tractor rally organised at Nasrullaganj, which is part of Chouhan's Assembly seat Budhni in Sehore district.

The leaders reached Nasrullaganj along with Congress workers in tractors and demanded that the Centre withdraw the new farm laws immediately.

Yadav said the new central agriculture laws were not in the interest of the farmers.

"These laws would prove detrimental to farmers. They should be immediately withdrawn or else the Congress will continue the agitation," he said.

Yadav also alleged that the district administration of Sehore stopped the Congress workers and farmers from participating in the protest and blocked the roads.

With inputs from PTI

Also See: Farmers' Protest Updates: Consensus on 2 out of 4 issues reached between both sides, says Tomar; next meeting on 4 Jan

Farmers' Protest: Consensus reached over power tarrifs and stubble burning, but deadlock on MSP, repeal of laws remains

Farmers' Protest Updates: Seventh round of negotiations end without headway, next meeting on 8 January

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