The Supreme Court of India
stayed the implementation of the three farm laws on January 12th – nearly 50 days after the farmer protest movement reached the borders of Delhi till further notice.
The three farm laws are: The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court appointed a committee to resolve the deadlock between protesting farmers and the government over the three contentious farm laws passed in September 2020
The committee was constituted to look into the grievances of the farmers as well as what the government had to say on these farm laws. The Supreme Court said “Even though the laws are being put into hold for the time being, it will not be an indefinite act and the decision will be taken soon on this issue”.
The committee appointed by the Supreme Court had 4 members namely – Bhupinder Singh Mann- ex Rajya Sabha MP and the President of the Bhartiya Kisan Union; Pramod Joshi - Agricultural Economist and Former Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati – Agricultural Economist and the Former Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural and Anil Ghanwat- President of Shetkari Sanghatana.
Farmer’s groups refused to acknowledge the committee so constituted and to have any discussions with them as they claimed that all the members of the said committee members were pro-government- in favour of the farm laws and that they justified the farm laws. However it is true that the members of the committee at various instances justified the farm laws during various interviews and meetings Ashok Gulati in his interview with Times of India in December,2020 stated that the farm laws will benefit the farmers. In other interview he claimed that “we need laws that that gives farmers more space to sell their produce, the new farm laws fit this bill”. Anil Ghanwat supported the farm laws when they first came out. Pramod Joshi in his interview with The Financial Express said “any dilution in the farm laws will constrain Indian agriculture in harnessing the emerging global opportunities”
The protesting farmer groups also claimed that these new farm laws will make them vulnerable to the price fluctuations and that the government was trying to ease out of the Minimum Support Price Regime with the help of these farm laws. The Central government however, denied all these claims and stated that these laws will benefit the farmers instead of making them vulnerable.
Majority of the committee’s hearings were held online. Opinions were invited from the general public and interest groups have also been incorporated in the report prepared by the committee. The committee stated that they spoke to 73 farmer organisations and processor organisations like oil expellers and daal millers so far. The committee will have to meticulously examine all the aspects involved in this deadlock between the state and the farmers and come up with an amicable solution to this problem by balancing the interests of all the groups and following the principles of fairness, justice and non-arbitrariness.