Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar on Tuesday said he hoped that the farmers will call off their protest against the agricultural laws. He made the remark after attending a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Hours after the Supreme Court appointed four people to a committee to resolve the deadlock on laws, farmer bodies said they would not join the panel as the members were in support of the new legislations and were “pro-government”.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the contentious agricultural laws until further orders, a day after it observed that the legislations were passed without consultation.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than a month, and have threatened to intensify their agitation during Republic Day celebrations on January 26, against what they see as laws threatening their livelihoods.
Eight rounds of talks with the government has so far failed to end the deadlock. The ninth round of talks will be held on January 15.
Here are the day’s updates:
10.47 pm: Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asks how the farmers could expect justice from the panel formed by the Supreme Court, since all its members supported the legislations, PTI reports.
10.38 pm: The Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation says the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the farm laws to give the protestors a “perception of achievement” so that they withdraw their agitation, PTI reports.
10.25 pm: Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar, in reference to the tractor rally planned by the farmers on January 26, says that events on that day should go well as it is a national occasion, ANI reports. “Farmers assured in their press conference that it’ll be peaceful,” he says. “It’s being hoped that they’ll call off agitation and go back home.”
10.25 pm: Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala says he discussed “each and every issue” related to the farmers’ protest with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, ANI reports. “I think the government (in state) is going strong,” he says.
6.18 pm: Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill compares Supreme Court’s decision to a “glass half-full and half-empty”. He says the decision on one hand exposes Centre’s failure to address the matter, while on the other the committee formed by the court defeats the purpose, as the members are in support of the laws.
6.09 pm: Supreme Court order asks panel formed by it to resolve deadlock to file its report within two months and hold the first sitting within 10 days, reports ANI.
6.07 pm: Balbir Singh Rajewal of Bharatiya Kisan Union says they will not appear in front of Supreme Court-appointed committee, reports ANI.
“Our agitation will go on as usual,” he says. “All the members of this committee are pro-government and had been justifying the laws,” Rajewal says.
6.04 pm: Darshan Pal, chief of farmers’ body Krantikari Kisan Union reiterates protestors will not accept any committee formed by Supreme Court for mediation, reports ANI.
“We were confident that Centre will get a committee formed through Supreme Court to take the burden off their shoulders,” he says.
4.06 pm: Bhartiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait says the farmers will not return home till the farm laws are repealed, reports ANI.
4.01 pm: Nationalist Congress Party says the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the implementation of the three laws is a positive step.
“Hon’ble Supreme Court’s stay on implementation of Farm Laws is a welcome & positive step in the right direction to get Justice for our farmers,” tweets NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik. “Central Government must now stop their rigid ways of functioning, accept their mistake and rectify it.”
3.59 pm: Farmer leaders welcome the Supreme Court’s order to stay the implementation of three farm laws, but say they would not call off their protest until the legislations are repealed, reports PTI. The Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of around 40 protesting farmer unions, has called a meeting to decide the next course of action.
Here are the highlights of the Supreme Court hearing:
- The Supreme Court has suspended the farm laws till further orders are given. The bench, however, said the laws will not be suspended indefinitely. “We don’t want to hear an argument that farmers will not go to the committee,” the court said. “We are looking to solve the problem. If you want to agitate indefinitely, you can.”
- The court also formed a panel to resolve the deadlock between the agitating farmers and the Centre over the contentious law. The members of the panel include Bharatiya Kisan Union President Jitender Singh Maan, International policy head Pramod Joshi, Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati and Maharashtra Shivkeri Sangathna member Anil Dhanvat.
- The Supreme Court asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to file an affidavit by Wednesday with confirmation that separatist outfits have hijacked the farmers’ movement. “We have said that Khalistanis have infiltrated into the protests,” the attorney general had told the court.
- The Court also issued notice on an application filed by the Centre, seeking to stop the proposed farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day.
- Advocate AP Singh, representing the Bharatiya Kisan Union-Bhanu, told the court that the farmers’ union has agreed to send back senior citizens who are camping near Delhi borders.
Takeaways from Monday’s hearing:
- The Supreme Court said it was extremely disappointed with the way talks were proceeding between the Centre and farmer unions over the new agricultural laws, and warned that it would put the contentious legislations on hold if the government refused to do so.
- 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. The bench had first suggested the formation of a neutral committee having representatives of the government and farmer unions to resolve the deadlock on December 17.
- The court also pulled up the Centre for seeking more time and insisting on implementing the laws. “We don’t see why there should be an insistence that the laws must be implemented at any cost,” CJI Bobde said. “We don’t know if you are part of the problem or solution.”
1.50 pm: The Supreme Court has appointed a committee to resolve the standoff between the government and farmers over the new farm laws. The members of this panel, according to Bar and Bench, are:
- Bharatiya Kisan Union President Jitender Singh Maan
- International policy head Pramod Joshi
- Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati
- Maharashtra Shivkeri Sangathna member Anil Dhanvat.
1.37 pm: Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati, Harsimrat Mann, Pramod Joshi are some of the names mentioned by the CJI who will be part of the committee, reports Live Law.
1.35 pm: The Supreme Court suspends the implementation of the new farms laws until further orders, reports Live Law. “Secondly, there will be a committee to hold talks”, CJI Bobde says.
1.31 pm: The Supreme Court was about to pronounce its verdict on the matter, when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta intervened, saying he needed “two minutes”. He tells the court that the farmers are being misled that their lands would be taken away under the new policies.
1.29 pm: Advocate AP Singh, appearing for the Bharatiya Kisan Union- Bhanu, tells the Supreme Court that “there is no comparison between the farmers protests and the Shaheen Bagh protests” against the new citizenship laws that were held last year, reports Live Law. “Farmers are protesting in a patriotic way,” he adds.
1.27 pm: The Supreme Court issues notice on the application filed by the Centre, through the Delhi Police, seeking to stop the proposed tractor rally on Republic Day.
1.22 pm: The Supreme Court tells the attorney general to file an affidavit by tomorrow with confirmation that separatist outfits have hijacked the farmers’ movement, reports Live Law. KK Venugopal agrees to this and says he will submit intelligence bureau records before the court.
1.16 pm: When the CJI asks the attorney general to confirm Narasimha’s allegations, KK Venugopal says, “We have said that Khalistanis have infiltrated into the protests.”
1.15 pm: At this point, PS Narasimha, one of the intervenors supporting the farm laws, submits that these kind of protests can be “dangerous”. Groups like “Sikhs for Justice” are involved in the protests, he submits.
1.13 pm: Singh says the court must put in place certain guidelines for the protests, if they are to continue, reports Live Law.
1.10 pm: Advocate Vikas Singh, who is appearing in a plea against the farmer protests, submits that the protestors need a “prominent place” for their demonstrations, Live Law reports. “Otherwise, there will be no meaning for the protests,” Singh adds. The advocate further suggests the Ram Lila Maidan in the Capital for the site of protests.
1.08 pm: Salve, who is appearing for the Centre, notes that the farmers are primarily agitating against the new laws for two main reasons – the continuation of the minimum support price regime, and the corporate take overs of their lands. “The attorney general and the solicitor general can assure that these concerns are unfounded,” he adds. “MSP will not be dismantled and no lands will be sold off.”
1.06 pm: Salve urges the court to ensure that the Republic Day parade goes “unblemished” by the protests planned by the farmers, reports Live Law. The Centre had on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor rally planned by farmers, saying any disruption caused on the occasion would be a “huge embarrassment for the nation”.
1.03 pm: Senior advocate Harish Salve expresses concern about the absence of advocates Dushyant Dave, HS Phoolka and Colin Gonsalves, at today’s hearing. “I say with a heavy heart that nobody is interested in the judicial process,” he adds. “We don’t have Dave, Phoolka and Colin Gonsalves today, though they said they represent nearly 400 protesters.”
12.59 pm: Advocate AP Singh, appearing for Bharatiya Kisan Union-Bhanu, informs the court that the farmers’ union has agreed to send back senior citizens who are camping near Delhi borders, reports Live Law. To this, the CJI remarks, “We will record you statement that elders, women and children will not participate in the present protests.”
12.57 pm: Justice Bobde says the Supreme Court “does not want negative inputs” about how the farmers will not appear before the committee appointed by it, as stated by advocate ML Sharma, reports Live Law.
12.55 pm: The CJI then reiterates the court’s intention of forming a committee to resolve the deadlock over the farm laws, reports Live Law. “We believe in the committee and we are going to constitute it,” Justice Bobde says. “This committee will be the part of judicial proceedings.”
12.53 pm: When advocate ML Sharma points out that Narendra Modi – “the main person” – has not approached the farmers for discussions till now, the court tells him that the prime minister is not a party in the case. “We cannot ask the prime minister to go,” Justice Bobde remarks.
12.52 pm: “We don’t want to hear an argument that farmers will not go to the committee,” CJI Bobde adds, reports Live Law. “We are looking to solve the problem. If you want to agitate indefinitely, you can.”
12.49 pm: Justice Bobde adds that the court wants to form a committee in order to get a “clearer picture”. “We want to solve the problem,” he adds. “We want to know the ground situation. That is why we are forming the committee.”
12.47 pm: CJI Bobde observes that the Supreme Court has the power to suspend the legislations, reports Live Law. “But the suspension of legislation must not be for an empty purpose,” he adds. “We will form a Committee which will submit a report to us.”
12.45 pm: Advocate Sharma, who is appearing for the farmers, says the protestors do not want anything short of a complete rollback of the new legislations, reports Bar and Bench. But “till today, Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi did not assure that they [the government] will withdraw the farm laws,” he adds.
12.43 pm: Chief Justice of India SA Bobde tells Sharma that the committee “will not punish” or pass any orders, but will only submit a report to the court. “Every person who is genuinely interested in solving the problem is expected to go before the Committee,” he adds.
12.41 pm: Advocate ML Sharma tells the court that farmer leaders do not want the matter to be handled by an independent committee, reports Live Law. “The Centre not willing to withdraw laws,” he adds. “So farmers say Committee meeting will not yield results.”
12.40 pm: The Supreme Court begins hearing a batch of pleas on the farmer protests.
12.36 pm: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khattar and his deputy Dushyant Chautala will meet Union home minister Amit Shah today to discuss the tensions around the new farm laws in the state, reports The Indian Express. The meeting will take place in Delhi. But before that, Chautala will hold another meeting with Jannayak Janta Party MLAs at his farmhouse in the Capital.
11.46 am: Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tait says that farmer unions will hold a core committee meeting after the Supreme Court pronounces its verdict on the contentious laws and the protests, reports ANI.
11.19 am: During Monday’s hearing, the Supreme Court also told senior advocate Vikas Singh, who appeared in a petition against the farmer protests, that the bench will not alter the previous order that the farmers can continue protesting at key entry points to Delhi in a peaceful manner. “But the court will think of changing the site of protest,” CJI Bode had said.
11.15 am: The Supreme Court will shortly pronounce its order on a batch of petitions challenging the controversial farm laws and the farmers’ round-the-clock sit-ins on the outskirts of Delhi. During the hearing on Monday, a three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, made some sharp observations about the persisting deadlock over the legislations:
- The 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. It noted that the laws were passed without enough consultation.
- CJI Bobde said the drawn-out confrontation was causing distress to farmers, and the situation at the protests was only getting worse. He said the court would pass orders if the two sides remained at an impasse.
- The court also proposed to set up a committee to “amicably resolve” the standoff. Farmers’ groups, however, rejected the suggestion to appoint a panel.
8 am: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta , representing the Centre, on Monday told the Supreme Court bench which was hearing a batch of petition challenging the laws and the farmers’ round-the-clock sit-ins on the outskirts of Delhi, that they made “harsh observations” during the hearing, reports The Indian Express.
In response, the chief justice of India said, “That was the most innocuous factual thing for us to say.”
7.47 am: Farmers’ group reject Supreme Court’s suggestion to appoint a committee to resolve the impasse over the three farm laws, reports The Hindu.
“While all organisations welcome the suggestions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to stay the implementation of the farm laws, they are collectively and individually not willing to participate in any proceedings before a committee that may be appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” a statement by Samyukt Kisan Morcha, issued late on Monday night, said.
The statement also says that the Centre’s attitude before the Supreme Court on Monday makes it clear that the government will not agree to discuss farmers’ demand to withdraw the contentious legislations before a panel.
7.45 am: The Centre, through the Delhi police, on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking an injunction order against any proposed tractor, trolley or vehicle march or any other kind of protest by farmers during the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
The affidavit says “disruption or obstruction” in the functions would not only be against law and order, but would also be “a huge embarrassment for the nation”. “The right to protest can never include maligning the nation globally,” it adds.
A quick look at the developments from Monday:
- The Supreme Court said it was extremely disappointed with the way talks were proceeding between the Centre and farmer unions over the new agricultural laws, and warned that it would put the contentious legislations on hold if the government refused to do so. 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. The bench had first suggested the formation of a neutral committee having representatives of the government and farmer unions to resolve the deadlock on December 17.
- The court will pronounce its order on Tuesday, leaving open the possibility that it could even stay the implementation of the farm laws to arrive at a solution to resolve the deadlock.
- Indian National Lok Dal leader and MLA from Ellenabad in Haryana Abhay Singh Chautala wrote to Haryana Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, offering his conditional resignation from the state Assembly. Chautala said that if he will resign if the new farm laws, against which farmers from several states are protesting, are not withdrawn.
- 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.