Supreme Court Of India has to put on hold three farm laws that have led to massive agitation by farmers in Delhi and formed a committee to look into the grievances of protesting farmers.
There were thousands of farmers were on the strike for more than 50 days and are demanding the repeal of the legislation, which they feel will lead to the corporatization of the farm sector and stop the government from buying crops at guaranteed prices. The Supreme Court said it wanted to facilitate mediation between the government and the protesting farmers who fear that the legislation will leave them at the mercy of big business.
The cause of the strike is, Farmers are selling their products at wholesale markets owned by the government, which also sets the minimum support price (MSP) for grains, which is generally higher than the market price. They fear that the new law, which came in the month of September, could attack the core of the traditional markets and the MSP by allowing the unregulated entry of private players in the farm sector, which employs over 50 percent of India’s population.
The government however argues that the new laws will bring greater prosperity to farmers and give greater market access to to sell to private buyers instead of just at state markets. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hopes now that farmers will stop protesting and go back home. However, the government held eight rounds of talks with different farmers’ unions but have not yielded any results. The next meeting was expected to be held in mid-January.
The government has said the changes would allow farmers to sell to private buyers instead of just at state markets. A farmer leader claims that the government does not want to understand the farmers’ concerns.
A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde went ahead and formed the committee, despite farmers groups rejecting the idea on Monday. “There is no power on earth which can prevent us from forming the independent committee. We want to solve the problem. We want to understand the ground situation. This is not politics. You have to cooperate,” Chief Justice Bobde told lawyers representing various farmers unions.
“All people who want to genuinely resolve the problem can go to the committee,” he added. Senior advocate V. Chithambresh for Bharatiya Kisan Sangh said he supports the formation of the committee. “We are not aggrieved about the new laws, we only want to ensure MSP,” he said.
The four-member committee would include Jitender Singh Maan, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union; Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi, International policy head; Ashok Gulati, Agricultural Economist; and Anil Dhanvat, Shivkeri Sangathna, Maharashtra.
The court in Delhi added that it would form a committee of experts to try and resolve the protracted dispute, which has emerged as a major challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The committee will not punish you or pass any orders. It will submit a report to us.”
After 48 days of protests, farmers have not attained anything with the court’s order. It is back to square one. Political analysts say that the court order has further strengthened farmers’ resolve to fight for the repeal of the law.