The Bharatiya Kisan Union Lokshakti, one of the farmers’ groups protesting the new agricultural laws, on Saturday requested the Supreme Court to remove the committee appointed by it to resolve the deadlock, noting that it comprised only of those experts who have openly favoured the contentious legislations, Live Law reported on Saturday.
The outfit said the decision to appoint a partisan panel violated “the principle of natural justice”. In an affidavit, the group invoked the rule of “nemo judex in causa sua”, which means that no one should be made a judge in his cause, and the rule of fair hearing. “Without the Principle of Natural Justice being observed, a fair decision cannot be arrived at,” it said.
The affidavit was filed in response to a plea by the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction of the tractor rally planned by farmers on Republic Day. The protesting farmers have threatened to further intensify their agitation by marching to the Capital on January 26.
The farmers’ group noted that the Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended the implementation of the market-oriented laws until a committee of experts, appointed by the court, could consult with government officials and protesting farmers to find an end to the deadlock.
Agricultural economists Ashok Gulati, Pramod Kumar Joshi, Shetkeri Sangthana member Anil Ghanwat along with Bhartiya Kisan Union National President Bhupinder Singh Mann were named in the court-appointed panel. Mann later recused himself from the committee saying that he would always stand with the farmers and Punjab.
All four members tasked with providing expert opinion to the court on the future of the laws have in the past publicly spoken in support of the laws, the farmers’ union said. The experts, it said, exhibited their support for the reforms “through articles penned down in various newspapers and interviews”.
“When all committee members appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court already in the favour of these three farm laws and already support the laws, which [are] made and passed by the central government without enough discussion with farmers, then how they can make [a] fair report without any biases before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,” the outfit asked in its plea.
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Further, in light of Mann recusing himself from the panel, the group said there existed “a burden on the other three members to stand down as well”.
The farmers group, therefore, requested the Supreme Court to remove the three members of the committee, and instead appoint those “who can make a report on the basis of mutual harmony, who can think fully about the interest of the farmers of India with impartiality, trust, goodwill, and appoint neutral and impartial personality of the country, not related to any political party”.
Tens of thousands of farmers continue to camp on the outskirts of Delhi, protesting for the repeal of the three laws passed in September. The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path to the corporatisation of the agricultural sector.
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.
Talks between the government and farmers’ unions yet again remained inconclusive on Friday, as protesting leaders stayed firm on their demand for repealing the new agricultural laws. This was the ninth round of discussions over the drawn-out dispute, which again failed in ending the weeks-long stalemate. The next round of talks will take place on January 19.