Farm law: ‘Whether you will hold the laws we should do that job’, SC to centre

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Centre over the handling of farmers agitation and asked the government if it would suspend implementation of the three farm laws or the court should step in.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde and including Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramaniam while hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the three farm laws, expressed concern over the Centre’s handling the protests and indicated that it would stay the three farm laws if the government was not willing to keep these in abeyance till it reached consensus with the protesting farmers.
”We are extremely disappointed with the way Centre is dealing with this. What consultative process has been followed for farm bills that entire states are up in rebellion,” the Chief Justice asked. The Bench asked the Centre if the contentious legislations can be put on hold for some time.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, on behalf of the Centre, said the government is ready for clause by clause discussion regarding the grievances of the farmers over the laws. “We are part of solution. So many organisations have come to us from farmer unions and stated that the laws are progressive and that we should not give in”, he said.
However, the Bench said “We have given you long rope, Mr Attorney General. Please don’t lecture us on patience,” he added.
The Attorney General also told the Apex Court about the protests against Haryana Chief Minister’s rally on Sunday in which the pandal was broken down by protestors.
“We are not saying we will protect law-breakers,” the Bench asserted.
The court also said it did not know whether the protesting farmers were observing social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Observing that it did not want to comment on the agitation, the Apex Court said ”people are committing suicide. People are suffering cold. Who is taking care of water and food ? Old people and women are in the ground.”
The Chief Justice also sought an assurance from the farmers that the protest would not be continued. “Whether you have faith in us or not, we are the Supreme Court of India and we will do our job,” the Bench said.
When the Attorney General told the court that the next meeting between the government and farmers is scheduled for January 15 and the court should not pass any order today, the Bench said, “We do not think the Centre is handling the issue correctly. We have to take some action today. We don’t think you are being effective.
“If laws are put on hold then negotiations will have a chance to work out”…Let me take a risk and say Chief Justice of India wants them (protesting farmers) to go back to their homes,” the CJI said.
The Monday hearing in the Supreme Court assumes significance as the Centre and the striking farmers are scheduled to hold their next meeting on January 15.

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