The Supreme Court on Thursday raised objections to highways in the Delhi-National Capital Region being blocked by protesting farmers, reported Live Law.
“Redressal can be through judicial forum agitation or parliamentary debates but how can highways be blocked and this cannot be a perpetual problem,” a bench led by Justice Sanjay Kaul said.
A plea filed by Noida resident Monicca Agarwal said that she was experiencing problems in her commute from Noida to Delhi as it took her two hours instead of 20 minutes when travelling to work.
In her petition, she argued that the Supreme Court has passed various directions to prevent road blockades but they have not been followed.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi’s border entry points since November 2020, seeking the withdrawal of the farm laws passed last September.
During Thursday’s hearing, the bench told the Centre, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi governments that it was their duty to implement a ruling against occupying public places passed by the court last year.
“If we pass any directions, then you will say we trespassed into executive domain,” the court said, Bar and Bench reported. “How to implement the law is your business. The court has no means to implement it.”
In October, the Supreme Court had said that public spaces cannot be occupied indefinitely and that protests should be held in designated areas. The verdict was delivered in connection with the road blockade at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh area by protestors opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act.
On Thursday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the Centre has formed a high-level committee to hold talks with the protesting farmers but they have refused to participate.
He asked the bench to implead the farm unions spearheading the protests as respondents in the case.
To this, the bench replied: “Mr Mehta, you have to move application for impleadment. How will the petitioner know who the leaders are. You move an application saying what you have done and how impleadment of some parties will help in resolution of dispute.”
The court posted the matter for next hearing on October 4.
Meanwhile, the Haryana government has filed an affidavit in the case, stating that it was making “sincere efforts” to persuade the farmers to remove the blockades.
The affidavit was filed after the Supreme Court asked Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and the Centre to find a solution to resolve the protests.
The Bharatiya Janata Party government claims that the new laws are aimed at making farming more profitable, but the farmers argue that they will bring about corporate dominance of the sector.
Farmers claim that once the prevailing authority of the state marketing boards – that provide a shield against exploitation – collapses, private entities will dictate the price of their produce. They also fear that the government plans to dismantle the minimum support price regime under the guise of reforming the agricultural sector.
In January, nearly two months into the farmer protests, the Supreme Court had suspended implementation of the farm laws.