- Farmers Agitation against Farm Harm Laws
The Committee appointed by the Supreme Court fizzled out as soon as it was formed. One member recused and agitating farmer leaders declined to appear before the Committee. A PIL is filed before Supreme Court to remove the remaining members.
Social Media and other media have exposed the bias of the four members chosen by the Supreme Court, within hours of the announcement of the Committee, which was expected to hear the objections, demands, grievances and complaints against the three Farm Laws passed by the Centre. Media has firmly established with proofs that these four have totally supported the hurriedly brought Bills to ‘liberate’ farmers.
The Farm Laws of the Centre have created an existential challenge for the small and marginal farmers all over the country. They have determined and developed strong agitation preparedness, stationed on roads leading to New Delhi to fight against the ‘farm harm laws.’ The farmers continued peaceful protest against the farm harm laws is testing the efficacy of the judicial system and posing threat to the political executive. The worst part is that the Government exhibited lack of humanity when they attacked farmers with water cannons amidst 2 degree centigrade cold in NCR and remained silent thereafter.
Legality of the Committee?
Can Supreme Court resolve an issue which the centre failed to address? Is it a subject matter of judicial mediation? The apex court has tried perhaps with genuine motive and good faith. The Supreme Court gave an interim order suspending the implementation of three agriculture Acts which were long back notified and prior to that were already in vogue in the form of ordinances. This suspension is no solution for the farmers agitating for their withdrawal. The so-called negotiations are just formal time-gaining strategies and appears to be not intended to arrive at a solution. In fact, when farmers unions say that there cannot be any solution except abolition of laws, which the Government is not willing to, where is the scope for consultations. The Centre does not want to accept the ‘defeat’, or it could be under heavy pressure for continuation of these enactments. In these circumstances there is little scope for any other solution. Each side wanted the other to agree to its demand totally, and hence, there appears no possibility for middle path.
The Supreme Court thought a committee suggested by a non-political entity like judiciary might make agitating farmers to come forward to find a solution. Whether Centre has agreed to this committee? Is there any commitment from the Government to implement the report of this Committee? Would it be legal if the SC issues any final order based on the recommendations of this committee?
Also Read : SC stays 3 farm laws
What was the criterion?
Most important question is what criterion was followed in selecting the panellists? But the experts whom SC chose, had already fixed their mind-frame that farm laws are good and beneficial for farmers. They exposed themselves earlier through media writings, interviews etc. It is almost impossible for such members to play a neutral role and convince the farmers that their reasons will be heard when mediators have already drawn adverse conclusions. This is the inherent defect of the committee appointed by the Supreme Court. It is not known whether their views were brought to the notice of the SC. One member has recused himself from the committee, while the farmers unions have already announced that they would not appear before this Committee.
Also Read : Hold farm laws or we will, SC to Centre
Would it be a proper precedent?
The interim order of the Judiciary basically appears to be an executive function. Whether the Supreme Court replaces the members? Or how it treats the recusal by a member or non-appearance by farmers. Would such an order be a proper precedent? There is no conclusion on the constitutionality, against which there are many strong arguments. The Court dealt only with the protests and presented its thinking on solution to the stalemate. Instead, the SC should have expedited the hearing this important Constitutional question. When a member recused from the Committee, and when farmers declared that they would not present before this Committee, the authority of the court has suffered a serious dent. How can the SC secure compliance to its order?
Also Read : Can’t ask PM to meet farmers: SC to farmers
An editorial concluded: “Forty-eight days of protest and eight rounds of Centre-farmers talks later, the Supreme Court has stepped in, and with all due respect, has overstepped the line. In a time when institutions seem fragile, and lines between them are blurring disturbingly, the court’s order on the farm laws seems to lead to another dead-end”
(Author is former Central Information Commissioner and Professor of Law at Bennett University)