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Farmers' Protest Updates: All panel members favour farm laws, can't expect justice for farmers, claims Congress

Farmers' Protest LIVE Updates: Leaders of the protesting farmers said that they had not sought any relief from the Supreme Court, instead, their appeals are from the government

FP Staff January 12, 2021 21:14:39 IST
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Farmers' Protest Updates: All panel members favour farm laws, can't expect justice for farmers, claims Congress

Representational image of farmers protest. AP

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Jan 12, 2021 - 21:13 (IST)

All members of SC-appointed panel favour farm laws, says Congress

The Congress on Tuesday claimed that all four members of the committee, appointed by the Supreme Court to resolve the deadlock over farmers' agitation against three farm laws, were in favour of the legislations, and posed how could the protesters expect justice from them.
 
The party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala sought to know whether any government lawyer disclosed the credentials of the committee members before the court.
 
"We do not know who has given these names to the Chief Justice of India. Why was their background and stand not checked. All these four persons are in favour of these laws and are standing with Prime Minister Modi. How can we expect justice from such a committee," he told reporters at a press conference.
Surjewala also alleged that one of the committee members was also a petitioner and asked how can the petitioner be made a member of the Supreme Court-appointed committee.

Jan 12, 2021 - 19:32 (IST)

Supreme Court should repeal laws suo motu, says protesting farmer unions

Leaders of the protesting farmers  said that they had not sought any relief from the Supreme Court, instead, their appeals are from the government. Maintaining that they will not appear before the committee constituted by the apex court today, they said that this panel was not what they had asked for. The court also has the power to suo motu repeal the laws, they should have done that, they said.

Jan 12, 2021 - 19:02 (IST)

Farmers left with no option other than to boycott SC-appointed panel, says Sitaram Yechury

Jan 12, 2021 - 18:46 (IST)

Already knew Centre will get a committee formed to escape responsibility, say protesting farmer leaders

"We had issued a press note last night stating that we won't accept any committee formed by Supreme Court for mediation. We were confident that Centre will get a committee formed through Supreme Court to take the burden off their shoulders," Krantikari Kisan Union chief, Darshan Pal said in a press congference. The combined front of various farm unions, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, has declared that it will not appear before any committee, even though the Supreme Court has mandated that the first sitting of the panel should take place within 10 days, 

Jan 12, 2021 - 18:43 (IST)

SC lauds farmers for peaceful protests

The Supreme Court bench, in its order, said, "Laudably, the farmers have so far carried on the agitation peacefully and without any untoward incident. But it was pointed out in the course of hearing that a few persons who are not farmers have also joined, with a view to show solidarity with the farmers".

The bench, however, acknowledged allegations that Khalistani protesters are also capitalising on the farmers' movement which has recieved massive support from farmers in Punjab. 

Jan 12, 2021 - 18:37 (IST)

Khailstanis' have infiltrated farmers protest, Centre tells SC

The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Centre to file an affidavit on its claim that some banned organisations including Khalistanis' have infiltrated the ongoing farmers protest against the new farm laws. Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said that Khalistanis' have infiltrated the protest and he will file an affidavit along with the necessary inputs of the intelligence bureau (IB). 

A bench of Chief Justice Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, which was hearing a clutch of petitions against the farm laws and the ongoing farmers protest at borders of Delhi, asked Venugopal to file the affidavit by Wednesday. 
 
During the hearing, senior advocate P S Narasimha, appearing for intervenor 'Indian Kisan Union' supporting the new farm laws, alleged that some banned organizations have been fuelling the protests of farmers.
 
These kinds of protests can be "dangerous" he said, adding that groups like "Sikhs for Justice" are involved in these agitations. The bench told Venugopal that somebody has made an allegation here on record that there are some banned organisations which are helping the protest. "Will you confirm this or deny?" the bench asked the AG. 
 
The Attorney General said, We have said that Khalistanis' have infiltrated the farmers' protest. We can file an affidavit by tomorrow, along with the report of the intelligence bureau.

Jan 12, 2021 - 18:18 (IST)

Didn't ask for it: Farmers on SC-appointed panel

Leaders of the protesting farmers held a press conference Tuesday, hours after the Supreme Court stayed the three contentious laws and appointed a four-member committee to resolve the dispute. 

The farmers appeared unfazed with the day's development and discarded the idea of cooperating with the panel, stating that all members have been vocal advocates of the bills in some form. Farmer leader Balbeer Singh Rajewal said, "We will not appear before any committee; our agitation is against three farm laws. We never even demanded from SC to form such a committee. The government is behind all these tactics."

Jan 12, 2021 - 17:51 (IST)

Meet the SC-appointed committeee members: Bhupinder Singh Mann

Bhupinder Singh Mann is a former Rajya Sabha MP, and is presently National President of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and Chairman of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee. 

On 14 December, 2020, a group of farmers' organisations, under the banner of the AIKCC, had handed over a memorandum demanding that the three laws be implemented, but with some amendments. According to an article in The Hindu, the amendments proposed by the organisations were aimed to ensure that judicial recourse is ensured, and that there is a level-playing field created between private and state-run markets

Read the complete profile here

Jan 12, 2021 - 17:35 (IST)

Farmers would rather talk to govt than SC-appointed committee: Yogendra Yadav

Jan 12, 2021 - 17:30 (IST)

Section of JJP MLAs call for repeal of laws, say NDA coalition in Haryana may pay the price

The Centre should repeal the three farm laws or it will cost the ruling BJP-JJP alliance in Haryana "heavily", a section of JJP MLAs said on Tuesday, hours before their party chief and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala meets Union Home Minister Amit Shah here.

Chautala and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar are scheduled to meet Shah in the national capital, and they will be accompanied by BJP state president OP Dhankar.

Farmers' Protest LATEST Updates: Leaders of the protesting farmers  said that they had not sought any relief from the Supreme Court, instead, their appeals are from the government. Maintaining that they will not appear before the committee constituted by the apex court today, they said that this panel was not what they had asked for. The court also has the power to suo motu repeal the laws, they should have done that, they said.

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to file an affidavit on its claim that some banned organisations, including 'Khalistanis', have infiltrated the ongoing farmers' protest against the three farm laws

Leaders of the protesting farmers held a press conference Tuesday, hours after the Supreme Court stayed the three contentious laws and appointed a four-member committee to resolve the dispute.

Quoting articles revealing past positions of all members of the panel on these laws, Yogendra Yadav said that the farmers will rather hold a discussion with Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar than such a 'partisan' committee. 

The Centre should repeal the three farm laws or it will cost the ruling BJP-JJP alliance in Haryana 'heavily', a section of JJP MLAs warned on Tuesday, hours before their party chief Dushyant Chautala is due to meet Amit Shah

The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha has refused to go to the Supreme Court-appointed expert panel for dispute resolution following concerns that all members of the committee have in the past supported the three laws

Farmer leaders welcomed the Supreme Court's order to stay the implementation of three farm laws on Tuesday, but said they would not call off their protest until the legislations are repealed.

While Attorney General KK Venugopal said there is 'huge support' for the laws in Kerala, Karnataka, etc, DMK's P Wilson said that is untrue and Vijaywada is burning with protests against the legislations.

CJI SA Bobde said the proposed committee will evaluate the pros and cons of the farm laws and its findings will be a part of the judicial process.

CJI SA Bobde said the Court has the power to suspend the agricultural laws, but "the suspension of legislation must not be for an empty purpose". He said that the court-appointed committee will submit a report to the Bench and every person interested in solving the issue should cooperate with the committee.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has spoken to leaders of Opposition parties to plan out a joint strategy in the budget session of Parliament regarding the Centre's new farm laws.

The Haryana deputy chief minister will hold a meeting with JJP MLAs at his farmhouse in Delhi. All JJP legislators have been asked to come to the National Capital on Tuesday.

A joint front of 40 agitating farmer unions welcomed the suggestion of the Supreme Court for a stay on the agricultural laws but said they are not willing to participate in any proceedings before a committee that may be appointed by it.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, rapping the Centre over its handling of the ongoing farmers protest at the borders of Delhi, said it is 'extremely disappointed ' with the way negotiations are unfolding.

The apex court asked the government if it would suspend the implementation of the laws or whether the court should step in for the same. The court further stated that it will constitute a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India to resolve the impasse.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, are camping at three border points of Delhi —Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur— for more than a month now, demanding the repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee to the minimum support price (MSP) system for their crops.

The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions on 7 January appeared headed nowhere as the Centre ruled out repealing the contentious laws, while the farmers' leaders said they are ready to fight till death and their 'ghar waapsi' will happen only after 'law waapsi'.

The apex court had earlier issued notice and sought the Centre's response on a batch of pleas against the three contentious farm laws —the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

As per reports, farmers groups said they will not participate in the proceedings of a committee that the Supreme Court might appoint.

"We met our lawyers this evening at length and after deliberation on pros and cons of the suggestions of the committee, we informed them that we are unanimously not agreeable to go before any committee,"  the Samyukta Kisan Morcha said, as per CNBC-TV18.

Talking to news agency PTI, farmer leaders had earlier said they welcomed the top court's observations, but added that a stay on the implementation of the laws was not a solution as it would only be for a fixed amount of time. The leaders said that their agitation will continue till the laws are scrapped.

Meanwhile, INLD legislator Abhay Singh Chautala, writing to the Haryana Assembly Speaker, said if the Centre does not withdraw the three contentious farm laws by 26 January, then he would resign as an MLA from the House.

Extremely disappointed with negotiation process, says SC

While hearing a batch of petitions challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, justices V Ramasubramanian and AS Bopanna, expressed disappointment at the way the government is handling the protest.

"We are extremely disappointed with the negotiation process. We don't want to make any stray observations on your negotiations but we are extremely disappointed with the process," PTI quotes the court as saying.

"We don't know what consultative process you followed before the laws. Many states are up in rebellion," LiveLaw quoted the bench as saying.

When Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that amendments had started during the previous regime, CJI Bobde said," Mr Attorney, please understand it will not help you that some other government started it," reported Bar and Bench.

The apex court said it is not talking about the repeal of these farm laws at the moment. "This is a very delicate situation," the bench said, adding, "There is not a single petition before us which says that these farm laws are beneficial."

"We are not experts on economy; you tell us whether government is going to put on hold farm laws or we will do this," the bench said.

Venugopal argued that a law cannot be stayed unless the court finds it violates fundamental rights or constitutional schemes. "Our intention is to see whether we can find an amicable solution to all this. That is why we had asked you (Centre) whether you are willing to keep these laws on hold for sometime. But you wanted to buy time," the bench observed.

The apex court, which said the matter is getting worse and people are committing suicides, reiterated the need for having a committee comprising representatives from the government and farmer organisations from over the country and said it will stop the implementation of these laws if the panel advises doing so.  It said that the protesting farmer can tell their objections to the committee.

The court asked the parties to suggest two or three names of former CJIs including former CJI RM Lodha who can head the court-appointed panel.

The bench said it did not know whether the protesting farmers were observing social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic but was concerned about them getting food and water. The bench also expressed apprehension that there might be some incident which may breach the peace.

"Old people and women are on the ground. Why are old people in the farmers' protests? We don't want to comment on the merit of the agitation," the bench said.

It said after the implementation of these laws are stayed, the protesters can carry on with the agitation as the court doesn't want "anyone to say that we stifled the protest." We are not going to protect any lawbreakers. We want to prevent the loss of property and lives, it said.

When the attorney-general told the court that next meeting between the government and farmers is scheduled for 15 January and the court should not pass any order today, the bench said, "We do not think the Centre is handling the issue correctly. We have to take some action today. We don't think you are being effective. If laws are put on hold then negotiations will have a chance to work out. "

The court refused to grant extra time to the Centre to explore the possibility of amicable solution to the issue, saying it has already granted the government a long rope. "We have given you long rope, Mr Attorney-General, please don't lecture us on patience," the bench said.

"Whether you have faith or not, we are the Supreme Court of India, we will do our job," the bench told the protesting farmer unions.

The court, which indicated during the hearing that it may pass orders in parts, later said that the order will be pronounced on Tuesday.

'Will continue agitation even if implementation stayed'

Farmers leaders said they would continue their agitation even if the government or the Supreme Court stays the implementation, reported PTI.  The farmer leaders, who said they were "sharing their personal opinion", were also of the view that a stay is "not a solution" as it is only for a fixed period of time.

The farmers want the laws to be repealed completely. The protest will continue even if the government or the Supreme Court stays their implementation," Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union president Gurnam Singh Chaduni told the news agency.

Bhog Singh Mansa, president of Indian Farmers Union (Mansa), said "A stay is not a solution. We are here to get these laws scrapped completely... the government has in a way already agreed to scrap the laws when it said it is willing to incorporate as many amendments as farmers want."

"We appeal to the Supreme Court to terminate these laws as these are not valid constitutionally," Mansa said, adding the protest will continue till the "the laws are not repealed or the BJP government completes its tenure".

Punjab Kisan Union president Ruldu Singh Mansa echoed similar sentiments, saying the agitation began with the demand for scrapping the farm laws and "it will end only when we win this fight".

Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union, said the farmer leaders are consulting their lawyers and a formal response will be given after the court gave its verdict.

Centre files affidavit

Serious, sincere and constructive efforts have been made to engage with limited number of farmers protesting at Delhi border, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare said in an affidavit filed in the SC, hours after the hearing. The affidavit of Sanjay Agarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, said it has been filed only to remove a deliberate wrong perception created systematically by non-farmer elements present at the protest site and using media/social media and to apprise this Court with true facts.
The Secretary said the 45-page affidavit has been submitted with the purpose of dispelling the erroneous notion that the protestors have peddled that the Central Government and the Parliament never had any consultative process or examination of issues by any Committee before passing of the laws in question.

 It is submitted that the Acts have received wide acceptance throughout the country and, therefore, some farmers and others objecting to the law had put a condition of its repeal, is neither justifiable nor acceptable. With a view to satisfy this court that sincere and possible attempts are made to engage a constructive dialogue with agitators, the affidavit said adding that the farmer unions never agreed to discuss the farm Acts and have been demanding their repeal.

PM should apologise to farmers, says Congress

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "Today, the Supreme Court expressed its anguish and its disappointment over repeated failure of talks and on failure of the government in being able to find a solution."

The Congress spokesperson demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to the farmers of the country and repeal the three farm laws being opposed by them.

Surjewala held the prime minister, the home minister and chief ministers of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh directly responsible for the current agitation, saying they stopped the farmers from coming to Delhi and expressing their anger and opposition to the farm laws in a Gandhian manner. "The Supreme Court is the protector of laws and the Constitution and we all have faith in it. If someone opposes the laws in a Gandhian manner, then the court will also support such an opposition, as protesting peacefully is a basic right enshrined in the Constitution," he said.

The Supreme Court should take note of the actions of the prime minister, Home minister Amit Shah, Manohar Lal Khattar, Dushyant Chautala and Adityanath whose governments dug up roads and blocked roads by putting up barriers, and register cases against them for causing losses to the state exchequer and damage to public property, he added.

'Consider letter as resignation if laws not withdrawn'

Earlier in the day, INLD MLA from Haryana's Ellenabad, Abhay Singh Chautala, slammed the Centre for imposing the "black laws" on farmers in an "undemocratic way" and said the farming community in the entire country is opposing these legislations.

More than 60 farmers have "attained martyrdom" because of the intense cold weather but the Centre has paid no heed to their demands, Chautala wrote in a letter to state Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta. Despite holding eight rounds of talks with the farmer leaders, the government has not shown any sign of agreement on the withdrawal of farm laws, he further said.

The INLD leader said it does not seem that being a responsible member of the House, he can play any role to protect the rights of farmers under the kind of conditions created by the government. "Considering all these situations, if the Government of India does not withdraw these three 'black laws' by 26 January, then this letter should be considered as my resignation," he wrote to the Speaker.

Haryana Police books Chaduni, others 

The Haryana Police booked BKU (Charuni) leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni, 70 other people by name and 800-900 unnamed people for rioting and damaging public property, a day after vandalism at the venue of a farmers' event which was to be addressed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said a police official from Karnal but added that nobody has been arrested yet.

They have been booked for rioting, assault on public servant, damaging public property, criminal conspiracy and other charges, police said and added they are collecting evidence including video clips in connection with the incident and would take action against those who are found involved in it.

A purported video of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Charuni, making an appeal to "end the arrogance of the CM" by not allowing him to address a kisan mahapanchayat, was circulating on social media, as per PTI. On 6 January, the BKU (Charuni) had threatened to oppose the 'kisan mahapanchayat'.

Agitating farmers had Sunday ransacked the venue of the 'kisan mahapanchayat', forcing the cancellation of Khattar's programme during which he was to address the gathering highlighting the "benefits" of the three contentious Central agriculture laws. Khattar had accused Chaduni of instigating people for vandalising the programme venue.

The Haryana Police had used water cannons and teargas shells to prevent farmers from marching towards Kaimla village, where the programme was to be held. The farmers, however, had managed to reach the venue and damage a makeshift helipad where Khattar's chopper was to land despite elaborate security arrangements made by police.

As per reports, BJP workers in Punjab's Jalandhar holding a sit-in over the "deteriorating law and order in the state " too faced counter protests from agitating farmers on Sunday. A large number of farmers, including workers of Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal) and BKU (Doaba), reached the venue and started removing the barricades but were stopped by nearly 1,400 policemen, reported the Indian Express.

As per a report in The Times of IndiaPunjab BJP president accused the Congress of vitiating the atmosphere in the name of the farmers. But Bahujan Samaj Front convenor Sukhwinder Singh Kotli said it is objectionable that he is calling the protesting farmers and Dalits as Congress agents.

BKU (Rajwal) general secretary Kulwinder Singh Machhiana, Kashmir Singh and Amarjot Singh Jandiala said that the farmers’ protest was peaceful and alleged that police had deliberately tried to spoil the atmosphere so that the BJP could organise its protest, as per the Indian Express report. They said that they will continue their protest against the BJP.

Youth Congress leaders who were going to oppose the BJP leaders too were stopped by the police, the reports said.

Farmers delegation leaves from Kerala

Meanwhile on Monday, a delegation of 500 farmers from Kerala left for Delhi on Monday by bus from Kerala to join their counterparts at the borders of Delhi. The farmers, belonging to''Kerala Karshaka Sangham'', the state chapter of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), one of the organisations at the forefront of the protest will participate in the protest at Shahjahanpur, one of the venues.

KN Balagopal, secretary of Kerala Karshaka Sangham, told PTI that this was the first batch of farmers and the next one would soon leave for the National Capital. "We are not going just for expressing solidarity alone. We are going to participate in the agitation because the farm laws affect the state in a very serious manner.It affects the food security, price of our food grains will be affected by these laws," Balagopal said.

In Kerala, the farmers have been on an indefinite protest since 12 December. Kerala Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi, part of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, has been observing a relay protest at the Martyrs Column in Thiruvananthapuram in solidarity with farmers protest across the country.

With input from PTI

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