Farmers’ stir: Supreme Court to pronounce order on new laws, protests tomorrow
The court said that it was extremely disappointed with the way talks were going on between the Centre and the farmer unions.
The Supreme Court will on Tuesday pronounce its order on the three agricultural laws at the centre of the massive farmers’ protest and the agitation itself. The court will continue hearing a batch of petition challenging the laws and the farmers’ round-the-clock sit-ins on the outskirts of Delhi.
During Monday’s hearing, the court said that it was extremely disappointed with the way talks were going on between the Centre and the farmer unions. The court told the government that it will put the laws on hold if the Centre refuses to do so.
Eight rounds of talks with the government has so far failed to mollify the farmers on their demands to repeal the legislations and to provide legal backing for minimum support price system. The ninth round of talks will be held on January 15, after the Supreme Court’s examines the constitutional validity of the laws.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping out on roads around the Capital, New Delhi, for over 40 days, braving bitter cold and continuous rain over the last few days. They have consistently argued that the agricultural laws threaten their livelihoods, while the government maintains that the legislations will unshackle farmers from having to sell their produce only at regulated wholesale markets.
Here are the day’s updates
10.56 pm: The Centre files an affidavit in the Supreme Court, saying that the farmers’ demand for the repeal of the laws was neither justifiable nor acceptable, ANI reports. The Centre claims that the laws earned wide acceptance across the country.
8.31 pm: Haryana Police books Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Charuni and dozens of other protesters for rioting and damaging public property, at Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s event in Karnal on Sunday, reports PTI.
8.00 pm: The Supreme Court will on Tuesday pronounce its order on the farmers protests and the agricultural laws, PTI reports.
19.54 pm: Congress leaders Partap Singh Bajwa and Chhaya Verma and former Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa walk out of a meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture after the panel’s chairperson refuses to discuss the farm laws and their aftermath, The Indian Express reports.
19.37 pm: The Congress demands that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to the farmers of the country and repeal the agriculture laws, PTI reports.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi should apologise not only to the families of 65 farmers who have sacrificed themselves, but also to the 62 crore farmers of the country,” Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says. “The prime minister should thereafter talk to the agitating farmers himself and nothing short of it is acceptable to the annadatas [food providers].”
Surjewala requests the Supreme Court to file cases against Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath after taking note of their actions which caused damage to public property.
4.19 pm: Abhay Singh Chautala says Chaudhary Devi Lal used to fulfil his promises and even gave up the prime minister’s post for VP Singh. “I have spoken to people from 30 to 32 villages so far,” he adds. “They are of the view that I should step down. If demands aren’t met by Jan 26, then my resignation be accepted on 27th.”
4.18 pm: Indian National Lokdal leader Abhay Singh Chautala writes to Haryana Speaker says: “If by 26th January the Centre does not take back the farm laws, then, this letter should be considered as my resignation from the state assembly”, reports ANI.
4.17 pm: Former Rajasthan Deputy Chief minister Sachin Pilot has reiterated the demand for withdrawal of the new farm laws, claiming that the laws are a “threat” to the future of farmers, reports PTI.
2.03 pm: The court will continue hearing the case on Tuesday, according to Bar & Bench.
1.39 pm: Bench disappears from the virtual hearing session after Bobde says they are rising for the day. Dave thinks that the court is passing some orders.
1.37 pm: Solicitor General asks the judges to remove the impression that the Centre has not done enough for the farmers. He says the government gave their best but the farmers were non-cooperative during talks.
1.33 pm: CJI Bobde lashes out at attorney general when the latter asked him not to pass orders today. “Why not?” asks Bobde. “We have given you a very long rope. Don’t lecture us on patience. We will decide when to pass the order. We might pass in part today and in part tomorrow.”
1.31 pm: Solicitor General seeks a day’s time to suggest names for the committee.
1.30 pm: Advocate Dave suggests former CJI RM Lodha’s name for the committee.
1.29 pm: “We trust senior advocates like Prashant Bhushan, Dave, Phoolka, Gonsalves etc will tell the farmers about the real purpose of the Committee. We are not creating an alternative forum”: CJI Bobde.
1.28 pm: The attorney general says the committee will be of no use if the farmers cannot tell it what their grievances are and only insist on repealing the laws.
1.25 pm: The attorney general says that if the court stays the law it will cause tremendous loss to 2,000 farmers.
1.23 pm: CJI asks advocate HS Phoolka to persuade old people and women to go back home.
1.16 pm: CJI tells senior advocate Vikas Singh, who appears in a petition against the farmer protests, that the bench will not alter the previous order that the farmers can continue protests in a peaceful manner. “But the court will think of changing the site of protest,” he adds.
1.01 pm: Jasbir Singh Pindi, the vice president of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, says the laws are pro-corporate. “We’re not in favour of forming committee,” he tells NDTV.
12.52 pm: Advocate Dave asks the attorney general to tell the court how the laws were passed in Rajya Sabha in a voice vote. “Every body knows what happened,” he says. “What happened in Rajya Sabha is very disturbing.”
12.48 pm: The CJI reminds the attorney general that staying the implementation of laws and staying the laws are two different things.
12.45 pm: CJI Bobde clarifies that the court will not decide matters like who should enter Delhi. “It is for the police to decide,” he adds.
12.43 pm: Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for a farmers’ group, tells the court that the farmers will not hold the tractor march on January 26. “We are glad that Dave has said this,” the CJI notes.
12.40 pm: The attorney general says only two or three states are protesting. “The law is a crystallization of the recommendations of several committees,” he adds, according to Live Law.
12.38 pm: The attorney general says that there are Supreme Court precedents saying that courts cannot stay legislations.
12.35 pm: The chief justice lashes out at the attorney general. “We are sorry to say that you, as the Union of India, are not able to solve the problem,” he says. “You have made a law without enough consultation resulting in a strike. So you have to resolve the strike.”
12.33 pm: CJI Bobde refuses to hear on the constitutionality of the laws. “We will hear at length on the constitutionality later. Not at this moment,” he says.
12.28 pm: “We don’t know whether you are part of the solution or part of the problem,” says SC.
12.26 pm: The court says it will decide on the laws after the committee makes a report. “The court will not pass an order that citizens should not protest,” it adds.
12.20 pm: The Supreme Court proposes to set up a committee. “We also propose to stay the implementation of the laws. If anyone wants to argue, argue,” it adds.
12.16 pm: The CJI says there is not one petition that says the laws are good.
12.14 pm: Justice Bobde pulls up the Centre for seeking more time and insisting on implementing the laws. “If you have some sense of responsibility, and if you say you will withhold the implementation of laws, we will form committee to decide,” he says. “We don’t see why there should be an insistence that the laws must be implemented at any cost.”
12.12 pm: Chief Justice of India SA Bobde says political parties have placed the court in a delicate situation. “Our intention is clear,” he adds. “We want an amicable solution for the problem. That is why we asked you last time, why don’t you keep the laws on hold. But you are keeping asking on time.”
12.10 pm: The Supreme Court begins hearing petitions against the three farm laws and the ongoing agitations in Delhi borders, reports Live Law.
11.09 am: During the last hearing on January 6, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had noted that there had been no “improvement on ground” in connection with the stalemate between the Centre and the farmers. On December 17, the bench had suggested that Centre should consider setting up a neutral committee to hold talks.
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.
11.04 am: India’s activist Supreme Court has often been viewed as a better venue for arbitration than the messy democratic politics of the street. In reality, it has only lived up to this image regularly on issues that concern India’s upper classes. More often than not, instead of acting as a check on government excess, it has tended to side with those in power.
Why is BJP treating the Supreme Court like a tie-breaker for the farmers protest?
11.01 am: The Supreme Court will shortly hear a batch of pleas seeking removal of protesting farmers from Delhi borders. Another set of petitions challenging the three farm laws are also listed before the bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.
10.57 am: Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Chaduni says he and other farmers will protest against any rally organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party to persuade people to support the farm laws. “Yes, we didn’t allow [Haryana Chief Minister Manohar] Khattar sahab to hold the rally in Kaimal,” he adds. “BJP said that they will hold 700 rallies to break our movement and we will protest against such BJP rallies.”
8.20 am: The Delhi Traffic Police tweets about the roads that are closed due to the farmers’ agitation.
8.18 am: Former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot urges the Narendra Modi government to withdraw the new farm laws, saying neither farmers nor state governments were consulted about it, reports PTI.
“The economy is collapsing, petrol-diesel prices are skyrocketing, cylinder prices are rising, inflation is rising, unemployment is increasing and in such a situation, the government is hitting the farmers with such a move,” says Pilot.
8.15 am: Farmers protesting at the Singhu border will burn copies of three farm laws on Lohri to express their anger, reports The Hindu.
8.08 am: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a batch of petitions challenging the three farm laws and the farmers agitation on the borders of Delhi today, reports PTI.
The eighth round of talks between the Centre and farm unions on January 8 ended without any resolution to the ongoing stalemate over the repeal of three farm reform laws. The ninth round of talks will be held on January 15.
During the last hearing, the Supreme Court had pointed out to the government that there had been no breakthrough or improvement in the impasse.
A quick look at the developments from Sunday:
- The farmers’ round-the-clock sit-ins on the outskirts of New Delhi has continued for over 40 days now.
- Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s visit to a village near Karnal city was cancelled on Sunday, after a group of farmers opposing the Centre’s agriculture laws ransacked the venue. Earlier during the day, the police had used water cannons and tear gas and resorted to baton charge to stop protestors from reaching a helipad in Kaimla village, where Khattar was scheduled to land to address the farmers in a “kisan mahapanchayat” event.
- Over 100 members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom have written to the country’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging him to take up the farmers’ protests against India’s new agriculture laws with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA said that the farm laws protests were a conspiracy to spread the avian influenza, or the bird flu, as the farmers were eating chicken biryani. A video of him has now gone viral on social media.