The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would hear a clutch of petitions challenging the three new farm laws and those related to the ongoing farmers’ protest at Delhi borders on January 11, reported Bar and Bench. While adjourning the matter, the bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde noted that there has been no “improvement on ground” in connection with the stalemate between the Centre and the farmers.

The three-judge bench reminded the petitioners and the respondents that the intention of the court was to encourage and facilitate talks between farmers and the government. The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma challenging the validity of the three farm laws.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that talks were going on. “We are having a healthy discussion,” Mehta said. Attorney General KK Venugopal also mentioned that there was a good chance that parties may come to a resolution soon.

The seventh round of talks on agriculture laws between farmers and the Centre on Monday had ended in a deadlock, with the two sides agreeing to meet again at 2 pm on January 8. While the farmers stuck to their demand of repealing the laws, the Centre remained firmly against it and suggested the formation of a panel to take the matter forward. During their meeting on December 30, the two sides had reached a consensus on two key concerns – stubble burning penalty and the Electricity Amendment Act.

Earlier in December, the Supreme Court had suggested the formation of a panel with the representatives of the farmers and the Centre to resolve the deadlock. The court had noted that a protest is constitutional till it does not destroy property or endanger life. It had allowed the protest to continue in a non-violent fashion and at the same time had asked the state not to “instigate violence” using the police force.

Farm laws

Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping out on roads around the capital, New Delhi, for 40 days, braving bitter cold and continuous rain over the last few days. They insist that the government withdraw the laws and guarantee a minimum support price for their produce.

The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.

The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The law passed in September are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.