Expressing its unhappiness over the way the central government passed the farm laws and subsquent failure to handle the agitation, Supreme Court on Monday said the government should have passed these laws after discussing with all stakeholders.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde, is hearing a batch of petitions, including those filed by DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, RJD MP Manoj K Jha, regarding the constitutional validity of three farm laws, passed by the Central government along with the plea to disperse protesting farmers.
“We do not think the Centre is handling this issue correctly. We have to take some action today. This is a very serious matter. We are proposing and facilitating to try to form a committee and we are also thinking that we will hold the implementation of the laws till further orders,” the CJI suggested to one of the petitioners.
Expressing his displeasure over the way the case is being handled, CJI Bobde said: “You have made a law without enough consultation resulting in a strike.”
“We are suggesting staying the implementation of farm laws only to facilitate the talks before the Committee,” the CJI said.
“We don’t want to say anything, the protests can go on, but who is going to take the responsibility?” he asked.
The CJI asserted, “If the Centre does not want to stay the implementation of farm laws, we will put a stay on it… The Union of India must take responsibility for all this. You (Centre) are bringing the laws and you can do it in a better manner.”
“We will stay the implementation of laws. You can carry on the protest. But the question is whether the protest should be held at the same site. Some people have committed suicide, old people and women are a part of the agitation. What is happening?” said the CJI.
He added that not a single plea has been filed that said the farm laws are good.
“We don’t know what negotiations are going on? Can the farm laws be put on hold for some time? the CJI asked.
“Each one of us will be responsible if something goes wrong. We don’t want anybody’s blood on our hands,” he said.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for one of the farmers’ unions said: “How can such important laws be passed through a voice vote in Parliament? If the government is serious, then the government can hold a joint session of Parliament and why the government is shying away from it.”
The farmers should be allowed to go to the Ramlila Maidan. “We are not interested in any violence,” he added.
“If the government is serious, then the government can hold a joint session of Parliament and why the government is shying away from it,” Dave said and questioned the way the government had passed the law.
Attorney General KK Venugopal said there are Supreme Court precedents saying that the Courts cannot stay legislation. “The Court cannot stay legislation unless it finds that the law is passed without legislative competence and the law violates fundamental rights,” he asserted.
“What happened with Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar (rally) cannot happen? On January 26, farmers with their tractors are planning to march down to Rajpath to destroy a day of national importance,” Venugopal said.
Senior lawyer, Harish Salve (representing one of the petitioners) stated that there are few elements, which should be weeded out from the protest. Salve mentioned about a Vancouver-based organisation collecting money under the banner ‘Justice for Sikhs’.
Farmers have been protesting at different borders of the national capital since November 26, 2020, against the three newly enacted farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.