The Supreme Court, while hearing a batch of petitions against the farm laws, on Monday asked the government if it would suspend the implementation of the laws or whether the court should step in for the same.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde lambasted the Centre for its handling of the protests. "You (government) either tell us will you suspend the implementation of law or the court will do it (sic)," CJI Bobde said. The CJI also noted that there have been deaths and suicides and women and children needed to be protected.
The CJI also asked the lawyers for the farm unions to convey his exhortations to women and children "to go home", according to India Today.
The court further said it is "extremely disappointed" with the way negotiations are going on between the Centre and the farmers on the new farm laws.
"We don't want to make any stray observations on your negotiations but we are extremely disappointed with the process," said the Bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
The apex court, which was hearing a clutch of pleas challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders, said it is not talking about the repeal of these farm laws at the moment.
"This is a very delicate situation," the Bench said, adding, "There is not a single petition before us which says that these farm laws are beneficial".
The Bench further said that it is considering setting up a neutral committee to hold talks on the issue, as noted by an article in LiveLaw.
According to Bar and Bench, the court said, "We will make the atmosphere comfortable and conducive for talks. Till then the farm laws can be put on hold. Who is going to be responsible for bloodshed? We need to uphold Article 21 as a constitutional court. What if some conflagration takes place?"
In response, Attorney General KK Venugopal contended, "Law cannot be stayed unless it is beyond legislative competence or violative of fundamental rights of against any constitutional provision. None of the petitioners have argued on this." Venugopal also claimed that "only farmers from two or three states are protesting", and that there was no participation from southern or western India.
At the end of the hearing, CJI Bobde lashed out at the Attorney General when the latter asked him not to pass orders on Monday. "Why not?" asked Bobde. "We have given you a very long rope. Don't lecture us on patience. We will decide when to pass the order. We might pass it in part today and in part tomorrow."
In the earlier hearing of the case on 17 December, the court had said that farmers have a right to continue their protest in a peaceful manner. It had noted in its order, "We are of the view at this stage that the farmers' protest should be allowed to continue without impediment and without any breach of peace either by the protesters or the police.We clarify that this Court will not interfere with the protest in question. Indeed the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can as a matter of fact, be exercised subject to public order."
With inputs from PTI