India’s Supreme Court stays implementation of new farm laws

Clay Curtis
January 12, 2021

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said it will pass an order to this effect. The court also proposed to set up a committee to review the laws.

This means that while the controversial laws have not been repealed, the government can not forcefully implement them until further notice. As many as 70 farmers, mostly old men, have died due to the severe winter and from road accidents.

It also spoke of constituting a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India to resolve the impasse.

"I know Bhupinder Singh Mann, he is from Punjab, and he has already met the Agriculture Minister and expressed support for the laws".

The SC also sought response from the Centre on whether a banned organisation had infiltrated the farmers' protests.

While all organisations welcome the suggestions of the Supreme Court to stay the implementation of the farm laws, they are collectively and individually not willing to participate in any proceedings before a committee that may be appointed by it, a statement issued by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha said.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday put an interim stay on the implementation of the new farm laws in a bid to get the protesting farmers to speak to the Central Government and resolve the stalemate.

He told the court, "We can not ask the Prime Minister to go".

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The Supreme Court's ruling came a day after it heard petitions filed by the farmers challenging the controversial legislation.

It highlighted the difference between judiciary and the politics and asked the farmers to cooperate with it. He added that if they don't agree to a clause-by-clause discussion of the Act, the panel is doomed to fail.

The bench said those who "genuinely want resolution, will go to the committee" on farm laws.

The farmer leaders, who said they were sharing their "personal opinion", were also of the view that a stay is "not a solution" as it is only for a fixed period of time. The bench had first suggested the formation of a neutral committee having representatives of the government and farmer unions to resolve the deadlock on December 17.

Objecting to any stay of the farm laws, Mr Venugopal asserted the laws were beneficial for farmers, and said: "The laws are within the legislative competence of Parliament and are meant to benefit the farmers". Their next meeting is scheduled on January 15.

A three-judge bench served notice to various farmers unions for their plan to drive tractors to Delhi on Republic Day to protest against the contested laws.

This is because a key principle in Indian jurisprudence is the 'presumption of constitutionality.' In essence, it means that the Legislature, which represents the will of the people, is presumed to have passed any law in accordance with constitutional provisions unless there are compelling reasons to believe otherwise.

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