SC stays implementation of 3 new farm laws, sets up panel to resolve impasse

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New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the implementation of controversial new farm laws till further orders and decided to set up a 4-member committee to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers' unions protesting at Delhi borders.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justice AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that it will pass an order to this effect. The top court stayed the implementation of the three 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 -- against which several petitions have been filed challenging their constitutional validity.

The bench which read out four names of members of the committee said that it will look into the farmers' grievances on the issue.

The four names of members include Bhupinder Singh Mann, President of Bhartiya Kisan Union; Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkeri Sangthana, Maharashtra; Pramod Kumar Joshi, director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati.

During the hearing, the top court sought the cooperation of the protesting farmers and made it clear that no power can prevent it from setting up a committee to resolve the impasse over the controversial farm laws.

The observation of the bench asking protesting farmers' unions to cooperate assumes significance in view of reports that they would not go to any apex court-appointed panel for resolution of the dispute and wanted the laws to be repealed.

Before pronouncing the order, the bench commenced the hearing and asked the farmers' unions to cooperate and go before the committee to be appointed by it to resolve the dispute.

'We are concerned about protecting the lives and property of citizens of India and we want to solve the problem,' said the bench.

In the proceedings, conducted through video conferencing, it reiterated that the apex court has powers to suspend the legislation in order to solve the problem.

The bench said those who 'genuinely want resolution, will go to the committee' on farm laws.

'This is not politics. There is a difference between politics and judiciary and you will have to cooperate', it said to farmer unions.

When the bench was informed that an application has been filed before it alleging that a banned organisation is extending support to the agitating farmers, the top court asked attorney general K K Venugopal about it.

Venugopal told the bench that 'Khalistanis' have infiltrated into the ongoing farmers' protest to which the bench asked him to file an affidavit in this regard. The top law officer said that he will do so by Wednesday.

The top court also issued notice on a separate application filed by the Centre through Delhi police seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor or trolley march or any other kind of protest which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of the Republic Day on January 26.

In the application, the Centre has said that it has come to the knowledge of the security agencies that a small group of protesting individuals or organisations have planned to carry out a tractor march on the Republic Day.

On Monday, the apex court had pulled up the Centre for its handling of the farmers' protest against the new farm laws saying it is “extremely disappointed” with the way negotiations between them were going and it will constitute a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India to resolve the impasse.

The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions on January 7 headed nowhere as the Centre ruled out repealing the contentious laws, while the farmers' leaders said they are ready to fight till death and their 'ghar waapsi' will happen only after 'law waapsi'. PTI ABA MNL SJK SA