The Centre on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor rally planned by farmers on Republic Day to protest against the three agricultural laws, saying any disruption caused on the occasion would be a “huge embarrassment for the nation”, reported PTI.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of Delhi for more than a month, with at least eight rounds of talks between the government and farmers’ groups failing to resolve the deadlock. The two sides are set to next meet on Friday. Farmers have promised to march during Republic Day celebrations on January 26, if the government does not repeal the laws that they say would benefit large corporate buyers at their expense.
In an application filed through the Delhi Police, the government cited the historical and constitutional significance of Republic Day, and said the farmers’ march was aimed to “disturb and disrupt” the celebrations. This, the government said, is bound to create a “massive law and order” situation.
“The January 26 Republic Day ceremony is not an isolated standalone ceremony rather a grand rehearsal takes place on January 23 where everything which is to happen on January 26 of each year is rehearsed,” it said “Any disruption or obstruction in the said functions would not only be against the law and order, public order, public interest but would also be a huge embarrassment for the nation.”
The government asked the court to restrain anyone from conducting any protest march either in the form of tractor march, trolley march, vehicle march or any other mode by entering into the National Capital Region Territory of Delhi on January 26. It said that right to protest is always subject to the “countervailing public order and the public interest” and the right to protest can never include “maligning the nation globally”.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had said it was extremely disappointed with the way talks were proceeding between the government and farmers, and warned that it would put the contentious legislations on hold if the government refused to do so.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said the drawn-out confrontation was causing distress to farmers, and the situation at the protests was only getting worse. The court also observed that current negotiations between a delegation of protestors and several Union ministers were not reaping any results, and reiterated that the matter needed to be resolved by a committee.
A bench led by CJI Bobde was hearing a batch of pleas seeking the removal of protesting farmers from Delhi borders. Another three petitions also listed before the bench have challenged the three new farm laws.
Farmers are happy with new laws, says Centre
In a counter-affidavit filed before the Supreme Court after the hearing, the Centre affirmed the new legislations were not made hurriedly, but were the result of two decades of deliberations, reported Live Law. Majority of the farmers were “not only happy” with the legislations, but also found them to be progressive and in their interest, the government claimed.
The government said it had done its best to engage with farmers to remove any misapprehensions and misgivings in their minds. The court must consider the “serious, sincere and constructive efforts made by the central government to engage with the limited number of protesting farmers who are opposing the Act,” the affidavit said.
But the farmers unions are not coming for talks with open mind, it claimed. “Representatives of farmers’ unions came with pre-occupied mind and instead of discussing the dispute rationally they raised placards with ‘YES or NO’ to repeal the stated three farm reform laws,” the Centre said.
About the laws, the government said there was a deliberately “wrong perception created systematically by non-farmer elements” present at the protest site. These elements were using media and the social network to “create misgivings” in the mind of farmers about the new reforms, it claimed.
It further submitted that “as a responsible government, it has taken all conceivable steps” to have an effective dialogue to remove any misgivings and to also ensure that specific grievances of agitating farmers are “discussed and sorted out so far as possible”.