Indian Farmers to Extend Protests After Rejecting Court Proposal

Farmers protest rattles the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday had stayed the implementation of controversial new farm laws till further orders and chose to set up a 4-member committee to resolve the impasse between the Centre and farmers' unions protesting at Delhi borders.

Enacted in September past year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their products anywhere in the country.

The SC also stayed the implementation of the farm laws until further orders.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the banner under which more than 40 farmer unions and collectives from across the country are protesting against the laws, has made it clear that they will accept nothing short of a repeal.

The government insists the laws will benefit farmers and says they will enable farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment.

The Bench, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justice S Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian, meanwhile, said the committee would hear the government as well as the representatives of the farmers and other stakeholders and submit a report with its recommendations before it (court) within two months of the date of its first sitting in New Delhi.

"We don't want any external committee", he said.

AFPTikait also said he will discuss the Supreme Court order of putting the three farm laws on hold with other farmer leaders.

Critics say the laws were created to help multinational companies and would lead to the collapse of government-controlled markets and leave farmers at the mercy of big business houses.

The farmer unions, however, were not pleased and reiterated that they will not participate in the court-ordered committee process, charging that "all the members of this committee are pro-govt and had been justifying the laws of the government". "The government can stay implementation of the laws and amend them after discussions with farmers", Ghanwat had said.

The court also hoped its "extraordinary order" of stay of implementation of the laws will be perceived as an achievement, and encourage farmers to go back to their homes.

The court asserted it had the power to suspend the legislation, but the stay must not be for an empty objective.

Shortly after the apex court pronounced its order, the leaders of the farmer unions addressed a news conference at Singhu border in the national capital. "We will continue our agitation", said farmer leader Balbeer Singh Rajewal.

They say the legislation passed by Parliament in September will lead to the cartelization and commercialization of agriculture, make farmers vulnerable to corporate greed and devastate their earnings. "We are against the committee on principle".

They also rejected the constitution of the committee because in their view the people on it were known for their support to the three Acts.

NARINDER NANU/AFP Farmers during demonstration against the central government's recent agricultural reforms in Amritsar on January 12, 2021.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party welcomes the Supreme Court's concern over the farm laws, but the party has issues with the composition of the committee formed by it.

He told reporters that the members of the committee have already expressed their views in the past favouring the new laws and so the question arises in our minds how justice will be done to farmers by their hands.

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