Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Tiruchi Siva on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the three controversial farm laws that were passed by the Parliament during the Monsoon Session, PTI reported. Siva, a Rajya Sabha MP, was among those who had demanded a division of votes when the farm bills were taken up for voting.
This came two days after Congress MP from Kerala, TN Prathapan, filed the first petition against the agriculture laws.
Siva has challenged the constitutionality of all three legislations, arguing that they are “illegal and arbitrary” and brought in during the coronavirus pandemic with the sole intention to benefit few corporations.
“These Acts would pave way for cartelisation and commercialisation of the agricultural produces and if allowed to stand, are going to ruin India as the corporates can, with one stroke, export our agricultural produce without any regulation, and may even result in famines.”— Petition
The DMK MP said India which fought for its independence from the British now have to wage a war to free itself from crony capitalism. Siva added that the new laws are unconstitutional due to the lack of legislative competence of the Centre on the subject of agriculture and land tenure.
Siva also pointed out that the laws are capable of taking away the basic rights and safeguards that were provided to the farmers through various state legislations, according to Bar and Bench. The farmers, the MP said, will be vulnerable to exploitation by the big players as the Centre has removed the minimum support price provision and opened markets for all.
“There is no intelligible differentia in the classification, to create a separate private mandi, which is not regulated by the state and is also non-taxable, other than taking away the basic negotiation power, which was available to the farmers, prior to the enactment of the impugned Acts.”
The five-time Member of Parliament said the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act would facilitate black marketing. He said the new laws attack the very foundation of the agricultural fabric of the country that was built to safeguard the interests of the farmers and not leave them at the mercy of privatisation.
“The Centre, under the garb of an alleged beneficiary legislation, has taken away the power to control the market demand and supply forces from the farmers and opening an era, for the private entities, to exploit the poor farmers, who would be left with no other option, but to submit themselves, to the unfair farmer agreements, which would be drafted by the crony capitalists and would also be protected by a statutory backing.”
Two bills – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill – were passed in the Parliament on September 20. The last one, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, was also approved by a voice vote in Rajya Sabha on September 22.
They became laws after President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the bills on September 27.
Critics say that these new agricultural policies would lead to farmers losing out on guaranteed purchase prices for their crops, to the benefit of large corporations. Most Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations across the country have strongly opposed the bills. The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against these bills.
Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has said that the state government will ensure that farmers from other states do not benefit from selling their produce in the state. This contravenes the farm laws by the Centre, which promises barrier-free trade at markets and prices of the farmer’s choice.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre, however, has consistently maintained that the bills would help in farmers getting a higher price for their produce as state-based Agricultural Produce Market Committees or APMC has been removed.